An amino-truncated variant form of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFRvIII) has been identified in human brain, breast, lung and ovarian tumors. We have found that overexpression of this mutant EGF receptor in NIH3T3 cells results in transformation as a result of the activation of the receptor kinase via ligand-independent dimerization. Transformation was correlated with tyrosine phosphorylation of only a subset of the proteins observed in cells overexpressing the normal EGF receptor. This suggested that further studies on cells expressing the EGFRvIII might provide insights into the pathways most relevant to transformation. In clones expressing high levels of mutant EGF receptor, the levels of both Grb2 and SHC were decreased. Despite this decrease, much of the endogenous Grb2 immunoprecipitated with EGFRvIII. Interestingly, no increase in ras-GTP loading was found in clones expressing the EGFRvIII and MAP kinase assays indicated only a small increase in activity. These results indicate that high-level expression of the EGFRvIII induces down-regulation of the ras-MAP kinase pathway and that other components involved in EGF receptor signal transduction may play a greater role in neoplastic transformation by the EGFRvIII.