Germline mutations of p53 have been implicated as a cause of cancer susceptibility in the Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Since inactivation of p53 has been suggested to play an important causative role in lung cancer, the present study of the prevalence of germline mutations in 148 patients with this neoplasm was performed. None of 138 randomly chosen patients were found to carry such mutations, while a single patient had a nonsense mutation at codon 213 among 10 patients selected for early onset and/or occurrence of multiple primary cancers. In contrast to the previous report of biallelic expression of p53 in a case with a germline missense mutation, preferential expression of the wild-type allele was observed in the heterozygous state in both normal lung and peripheral blood lymphocytes of our case, whereas expression of mutant mRNA was readily detectable in her lung cancer in the absence of the remaining wild-type allele. Interestingly, the family history of the proband showed a mild aggregation of adulthood cancers and a high prevalence of stomach cancer, a rare component in American families affected by the syndrome. These observations suggest the presence of heterogeneity with regard to molecular and clinical features of germline p53 mutations.