The structure and the function of the p53 gene were studied in two metastatic cell variants derived from Lewis lung carcinoma. Single missense mutation at codon 334 was detected in the p53 gene of both cell variants. In spite of the identical mutation, the in vitro and in vivo growth rates of the two cell variants were differentially affected by the constitutive expression of exogenous wild-type (wt) p53 gene. In fact, only the more malignant cell line (C87) was severely affected by the wt-p53 gene introduction. However, the in vivo effects on this cell line were transient because during serial in vivo passages, cell populations lacking the wt-p53 gene were selected. Genetic mechanisms responsible for the resistance of the less metastatic cell variant (BC215) to the wt-p53 expression, were investigated. Intrinsic ability to mutate exogenous cDNA sequences was tested. We report that BC215 cells continued to express exogenous wt-p53 sequences after several in vitro passages. The expression of mdm2 gene was evaluated. The data demonstrated that BC215 cells constitutively express higher levels of mdm2 gene than C87 cells. We conclude that the overexpression of this gene might be responsible for the resistance of BC215 cells to exogenous wt-p53 gene expression.