A novel gene, termed p73, encodes a protein with a significant homology to p53 and has been mapped at chromosome 1p36.3, which is a locus of multiple suppressor genes for tumors including neuroblastoma and other cancers. Since the 1p36 locus is reported to be deleted and p53 is frequently mutated in esophageal carcinomas, we examined loss of heterozygosity (LOH) and mutation of the p73 gene in 48 untreated esophageal tumors, as well as mRNA expression in 8 tumors. We screened the P1 genomic library to obtain a P1 clone containing the p73 gene and found a polymorphic short tandem CT repeat site at intron 9. Intragenic sequences for 14 PCR primer sets and a primer pair flanking the repeat were also determined for the analysis of PCR single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) and LOH studies, respectively. Expression of p73 mRNA was detectable but at low levels in all 8 tumor tissues by reverse transcriptase PCR. We did not find any type of mutation other than polymorphisms in the 48 esophageal carcinomas, though aberration of the p53 gene on the PCR-SSCP gels was observed in 15 of 38 (39%) tumors of the same set. In addition, LOH for p73 was found in only 2 of 25 (8%) tumors. These results suggest that, at least in esophageal carcinomas, allelic loss or mutation of p73 may not be a main genetic event for the tumorigenesis as it is with p53.