Hepatocellular carcinoma samples obtained from 59 patients at surgical resection were examined for mutations of the third base at codon 249 of the p53 gene, using the polymerase chain reaction and oligonucleotide hybridization techniques. This point mutation, which is frequently observed in HCC cases from Southern Africa and Quidong in China, was not recognized in either 60 hepatocellular carcinomas or 53 noncancerous liver tissue samples from Japan. Thirty-four of 45 patients (75.6%) were positive for the hepatitis C virus, which was a higher rate than that for hepatitis B virus infection (9 of 55; 16.4%). The exposure to aflatoxin B1 was not considered to be remarkable. These results suggest that the point mutation of the third base at codon 249 is not common in Japanese patients, and it is suggested that numerous other factors affect the mutation of the p53 gene and the development of hepatocellular carcinoma.