Many human cancers present deletions of the short arm of chromosome 17, which includes the TP53 locus. We detected a new polymorphism in intron 2 of the TP53 gene using PCR-SSCP and used this polymorphic site as a marker to detect loss of heterozygosity in 135 human tumors (73 soft tissue sarcomas, and 48 colorectal and 14 bladder carcinomas). Heterozygosity for this site was 41.5% in this study group and tumor-specific loss of alleles occurred in 43% of informative cases. Allelic losses were more frequently detected at this site than at that in which restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) is located, as detected by the pHp53B probe. It is concluded that this novel approach has several advantages, including detection of a high incidence of informative cases and minimal tissue requirements.