To test the potential role of H19 as a tumour suppressor gene we have examined its expression and DNA methylation in Wilms' tumours (WTs). In most WTs (18/25), H19 RNA was reduced at least 20-fold from fetal kidney levels. Of the expression-negative tumours ten retained 11p15.5 heterozygosity: in nine of these, H19 DNA was biallelically hypermethylated and in two cases hypermethylation locally restricted to H19 sequences was also present in the non-neoplastic kidney parenchyma. IGF2 mRNA was expressed in most but not all WTs and expression patterns were consistent with IGF2/H19 enhancer competition without obligate inverse coupling. These observations implicate genetic and epigenetic inactivation of H19 in Wilms' tumorigenesis.