Codon 249 (exon 7) of the putative tumor suppressor gene p53 is a mutational hot-spot for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) but not other tumors. DNA samples from primary HCC patients from Tongan, an area of high HCC incidence in China (> 40 per 100,000 population), were analyzed for specific mutations in codon 249 of the p53 gene using polymerase chain reaction (PCR)/restriction-digest methods and direct DNA sequencing. Seven of the 21 samples screened were found to have a point mutation at the third base position of codon 249 (AGG to AGT). The result is consistent with previous reports that the G-->T transversion is positively associated with the level of dietary aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) contamination, which has been implicated as one of the risk factors in Tongan area. Of the 7 HCC patients that contained the codon 249 point mutation, one was hepatitis B virus (HBV)-negative. This is only the second documentation of an HCC patient harboring the p53 codon 249 mutation, who was HBV-negative.