Mutations in the p53 gene are common in lung cancer. Using data from the the International Agency for Research on Cancer p53 mutation database (R1), we have analyzed the distribution and nature of p53 mutations in 876 lung tumors described in the literature. These analyses confirm that G to T transitions are the predominant type of p53 mutation in lung cancer from smokers. The most frequently mutated codons include 157, 158, 179, 248, 249, and 273, and several of them (157, 248, and 273) have been shown to correspond to sites of in vitro DNA adduct formation by metabolites of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) such as benzo(a)pyrene. Furthermore, most of the base changes at codons 248, 249, and 273 in lung cancer differ from those commonly observed at these codons in other cancers reported in the database. Thus, lung cancer from smokers shows a distinct, unique p53 mutation spectrum that is not observed in lung cancer from nonsmokers. These results further strengthen the association between active smoking, exposure to PAHs, and lung cancer. They also indicate that a different pattern of mutations occurs in nonsmokers, and this observation may help to identify other agents causally involved in lung cancer in nonsmokers.