AKT2, an oncogene encoding a protein serine-threonine kinase implicated in phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase signaling, is amplified in some human ovarian and pancreatic carcinomas. We previously demonstrated that the tumorigenicity and invasiveness of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cell lines with amplified AKT2 could be markedly reduced by transfection with antisense AKT2 constructs. To evaluate further the extent of AKT2 alterations in PDAC, DNA and immunohistochemical analyses were performed to assess amplification or overexpression of AKT2, respectively, in 72 PDACs. Thirty-five PDACs were subjected to Southern analyses, and AKT2 amplification was detected in seven tumors (20%). Forty-one formalin-fixed PDAC specimens were examined immunohistochemically with an anti-AKT2 monoclonal antibody, and moderate to intense staining was observed in eight tumors (20%). AKT2 immunostaining paralleled AKT2 genomic status in each of four cases in which both Southern and immunohistochemical analyses were performed. No obvious relationship was observed between AKT2 status and tumor TNM stage or grade. These observations suggest the utility of immunohistochemical analysis in assessing alterations of AKT2 in human cancers. Furthermore, the role played by the AKT2 kinase in the signaling pathways of various mitogenic growth factors implicated in the development of pancreatic cancer suggests that alteration of AKT2 may be an important component in the pathogenesis of a substantial subset of PDACs.