Gastric carcinoma may occur sporadically or in association with hereditary diseases, such as Peutz-Jehgers syndrome (PJS). The PJS gene (named STK11 or LKB1) was mapped to 19p13.3 and recently cloned. Germ-line mutations of the gene have been detected in familial PJS patients and are predicted to predispose STK11 carriers to the development of a wide range of gastrointestinal and other neoplasms. To elucidate the etiological role of the STK11 gene in sporadic gastric carcinoma tumorigenesis, we analyzed 28 gastric carcinomas (22 of intestinal type and 6 of diffuse type) for STK11 gene mutations. STK11 gene mutations were detected in 3 of 28 gastric carcinomas but were not seen in the corresponding germ-line DNA sequence. In one tumor, a missense mutation, C-to-T transition, was detected at codon 324 resulting in proline to leucine substitution; in the other two, silent mutations were detected at codons 106 and 350, respectively. While these results suggest that somatic STK11 mutations are not common in sporadic gastric carcinomas, they may occur in a subset of these tumors.