Mutations in the p53 tumour suppressor gene are found at high frequency in bladder cancer. There is strong evidence that p53 plays an important role in controlling the cell cycle after DNA damage by ionizing radiation. However, the effect of loss of p53 function on radiosensitivity is not yet clear. Radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy is the most common treatment for patients with invasive bladder cancer. Recently three bladder cancer cell lines have been established and this paper investigates the p53 status and clonogenic survival of these cell lines following irradiation. It was found that one line expresses wt p53 (UCRU-BL-13) and two lines contain a codon 72 polymorphism (UCRU-BL-17 and UCRU-BL-28). UCRU-BL-17 cells also contain a point mutation affecting codon 280. The level of p53 expression in the cell lines is clearly different, with UCRU-BL-17 expressing a higher level of p53 compared with UCRU-BL-13; UCRU-BL-28 expressed intermediate levels. The clonogenic survival of these cell lines has been determined. It was found that the line expressing a p53 mutation was more sensitive than those with wild type p53, providing support for a model in which loss of p53 function is associated with increased radiosensitivity, possibly due to reduced p53-dependent DNA repair.