The fusion of mouse and human melanoma cells that were tumorigenic but had different metastatic capabilities resulted in hybrids that were metastatic when injected intravenously or subcutaneously into nude mice, regardless of whether it was the mouse or the human melanoma clone that was metastatic. The H7 hybrid line, formed by fusing murine nonmetastatic K1735 C19 cells with human metastatic A375 C15 cells retained high metastatic potential over more than 50 sub-culture passages, suggesting that the dominant metastatic phenotype in these hybrid cells was stable. Using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), human chromosome 17 was consistently identified as the predominant human chromosome in the majority of H7 cells tested between passages 20 and 60. Western blot analysis showed that the hybrid cells expressed human nm23 protein, indicating that at least one gene on the human chromosome 17 was functional. Immunocytochemistry and immunoprecipitation showed that the metastatic A375 C15 and H7 cells expressed p53 protein, but that the nonmetastatic K1735 C19 melanoma cells did not. Sequencing the human p53 gene in A375 C15N and H7 showed mutations in exon 7. Using a bioassay technique, we showed that K1735 C19 cells can spread from subcutaneous tumors to the lungs of nude mice yet fail to form metastases. With the addition of human chromosome 17 from A375 C15 cells, which carries a mutant p53 gene, the cells readily formed lung metastases. In this melanoma hybrid, a mutant p53 gene appears to confer a survival advantage on cells arrested in the lungs of nude mice and thus contributes to the growth of metastatic cells.