Reduced expression of nm23 has been associated with increased metastases and decreased survival in a variety of malignancies. In the present study, the expression of nm23 was examined by Northern and Western blot analyses in a series of cell lines derived from patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Two of twelve (17%) informative cell lines derived from 9 patients had loss of heterozygosity at Nm23-H1. Twenty-two renal cancer cell lines derived from primary tumors, 5 cell lines derived from metastatic tumors and 4 short-term cultures of normal proximal renal tubular cells all expressed Nm23 mRNA in varying amounts. On average, the level of expression of Nm23 mRNA in short-term cultures of benign proximal renal tubular cells was found to be similar to the level seen in renal cancer cell lines. Twenty-eight cell lines derived from renal primary tumors and 8 cell lines derived from metastatic tumors expressed both the Nm23-H1 and Nm23-H2 proteins. High or low relative expression of nm23 at the mRNA or protein level did not correlate with survival. The absence of any anomalous pattern of expression of the nm23 genes and the lack of correlation of expression with survival suggests that nm23 does not play a central role in the progression of this tumor type.