Mice of the A/J strain are useful models of lung cancer because they develop tumors spontaneously or after treatment with ethyl carbamate. These tumors are thought to arise from either Clara cells (papillary tumors) or alveolar type 2 cells (alveolar tumors); like many human lung adenocarcinomas, the mouse tumors involve Kiras activation. Transformation with Ki-ras can be reversed by coexpression of the Krev-1 gene in tissue culture. To test the tumor suppressor activity of Krev-1 in vivo, we produced transgenic A/J mice expressing Krev-1 under the control of the rabbit uteroglobin promoter, which directs expression of heterologous genes to the lung Clara cells. Krev-1 was expressed specifically in the lungs of transgenic mice. Sixty-six mice (35 transgenic and 31 nontransgenic) from three lines were given ethyl carbamate, and the numbers of resulting lung tumors were compared between transgenic and nontransgenic animals. The mean number (+/-standard deviation) of ethyl carbamate-induced lung tumors was 21.7 +/- 1.3 in transgenic mice and 26.9 +/- 1.3 in their nontransgenic littermates (P < 0.01). Sequencing of polymerase chain reaction-amplified ras DNA from 15 transgenic mouse tumors and 16 nontransgenic mouse tumors (controls) detected mutations in codon 61 in 13 tumors from the transgenic group and 11 tumors in the control group, whereas mutations in codon 12 were detected in only one tumor in the transgenic group and in four tumors in the controls. Together, these data demonstrate for the first time the tumor suppressor activity of Krev-1 in vivo and suggest that Krev-1 tumor suppressor activity may be specific for cells harboring mutations in codon 12 of ras.