Thirty-nine resection specimens of gastric carcinomas have been investigated for the presence of EBV RNA sequences using a highly sensitive non-radioactive in situ hybridization technique. Transcribed EBER sequences were found in seven (18%), including four cases of undifferentiated carcinoma with prominent lymphoid infiltration and three gastric adenocarcinomas. In the positive tumours all, or nearly all, tumour nuclei were distinctly labelled. No positive signals could be detected in the non-dysplastic epithelial cells or the reactive inflammatory infiltrate. Clonality analysis using specific probes to the variable tandem repeat region of the EBV yielded single episomal bands in all four cases tested, two of which were undifferentiated carcinomas and two adenocarcinomas. By means of immunohistology, no expression of the EBV-related proteins LMP or EBNA-2 was present in tumour cells of positive cases in in situ or blotting attempts. Our results suggest that infection of gastric carcinomas by the EB virus occurs early in tumourigenesis but, in contrast to nasopharyngeal carcinomas, does not result in the expression of EBV-specific proteins.