Oncogene mutations are frequently found in several tumour types and, among these, point mutations of the ras gene are particularly significant. A predominance of N-ras mutations has been found in the bone marrow DNA of patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) or acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML). On the other hand, increased levels of plasma DNA have previously been observed in patients suffering from various malignant diseases. In the present work we have investigated, by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), point mutations of the N-ras gene in the DNA of plasma, blood cells and bone marrow of 10 patients suffering from AML or MDS. The different ras mutations detected in five cases were always present in the plasma DNA while sometimes absent in the DNA of peripheral blood cells or bone marrow. This indicates that a bone marrow biopsy or aspiration does not necessarily contain all the malignant clones involved in the disease. Plasma could thus prove to be an easily accessible and useful material for detection and monitoring of myeloid disorders.