Point mutations of the Ki-ras and p53 genes in rat lung lesions induced by N-nitrosobis(2-hydroxypropyl)amine (BHP) were investigated by polymerase chain reaction-single strand conformation polymorphism analysis followed by direct sequencing using paraffin-embedded tissues. Male Wistar rats 6 wk old were given 2000 ppm BHP in drinking water for 15 wk. Another group was given drinking water without BHP. The rats were killed 20-27 wk after the beginning of the experiment. Lung adenomatous and squamous lesions, including carcinomas, were induced. The frequencies of Ki-ras mutations were 40% (six of 15) in alveolar hyperplasias, 36% (five of 14) in adenomas, 72% (18 of 25) in adenocarcinomas, 20% (three of 15) in squamous metaplasias, 50% (three of six) in squamous cell carcinomas, and 50% (five of 10) in adenosquamous carcinomas. The mutations were all G-->A transitions at the second position of codon 12; no other mutations were detected. However, Ha-ras mutations in exons 1 and 2 and p53 mutations in exons 5, 6, and 7 were not detected in adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. These results indicate that Ki-ras mutation is an early genetic event in some adenomatous and squamous lung carcinogeneses and that Ki-ras mutations can cause benign lesions to convert to malignant lesions. The results also show that Ha-ras and p53 mutations are not involved in rat lung carcinogenesis induced by BHP.