In this report we examined p53 alterations at the DNA, mRNA, and protein levels on tissue from 39 patients with different subtypes of sarcoma. Loss of heterozygosity for the chromosome 17p region was found in 60, 63, and 33% of 10 informative osteosarcomas, 11 malignant fibrous histiocytomas, and 6 leiomyosarcomas, respectively. In addition, 2 of 10 tumors belonging to a heterogeneous group of soft tissue sarcomas showed loss of heterozygosity. Elevated levels of p53 mRNA were found in six tumors, four had a truncated transcript, and in six patients no mRNA was detected. In most cases, elevated transcript levels were accompanied by overexpression of protein as studied by immunohistochemistry, whereas the presence of truncated transcripts was associated with negative immunostaining. Point mutations in exons 5, 7, or 8 of the TP53 gene were detected in seven tumors. Six of these expressed high levels of mRNA and protein, probably reflecting a point mutation in one of the alleles and loss of the other. Three of the mutations have not previously been described. Taken together, p53 abnormalities were found in approximately 65% of the osteosarcomas, malignant fibrous histiocytomas, and leiomyosarcomas examined and in 30% of the other soft tissue tumors. The results indicate that the TP53 gene is involved in the tumorigenesis of several sarcoma subtypes in a higher fraction of cases than was previously recognized.