We have previously reported frequent allelic loss in chromosome bands 16q24.1-q24.2 in human lung cancer. Since the H-cadherin (CDH13) gene has been isolated and mapped to this common region of allelic loss, we have investigated this gene in human lung cancer. The reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction technique has revealed the loss of expression in four (57%) of seven lung cancer cell lines. To study the CDH13 gene further, we have analyzed deletions, genetic alterations, and methylation status at the 5' region of this gene. Three (75%) of four cell lines that have lost expression show a deletion of the CDH13 locus accompanied by hypermethylation of the remaining allele. Moreover, hypermethylation has been observed in nine (45%) of 20 primary lung cancers. These results suggest that a combination of deletion and hypermethylation causes inactivation of the CDH13 gene in a considerable number of human lung cancers.