ras gene mutations are the most frequent molecular changes found in the preleukemic syndromes of adults and may play a role in initiating these diseases and in their progression to acute leukemia. However, little is known about the incidence or importance of these genetic mutations in childhood myeloproliferative states (MPS). The bone marrow (BM) monosomy 7 syndrome accounts for a large percentage of childhood MPS. Although the duration of the MPS is quite variable, children with monosomy 7 eventually develop acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We investigated 20 children (13 with MPS, 7 with AML) with BM monosomy 7 or 7q- for the presence of ras gene mutations using the polymerase chain reaction and hybridization with mutation-specific oligonucleotides. Mutations of N-ras and K-ras were detected in three children. Two patients carrying a ras mutation were in the myeloproliferative phase, and one had acute leukemia. All three patients with ras mutations either died of their disease or relapsed after BM transplantation as compared with 8 of 17 without ras mutations. However, this difference is not statistically significant (P = .14, not significant). We conclude that ras mutations are observed in childhood monosomy 7, though less frequently than in adult MDS, and may play a limited role in the progression of this disease to acute leukemia. More patients are needed to address the prognostic role of ras mutations in this rare disease.