Juvenile chronic myelogenous leukemia (JCML), a myeloproliferative disorder of childhood, is distinct from adult-type chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and bears resemblance to chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMMoL). Since mutations in the N-ras gene have been found at high frequencies in CMMoL, but only rarely in CML, we analyzed mutations activating the N-ras gene in 20 patients with JCML. We used the strategy for analysis of gene mutations based on in vitro DNA amplification by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) followed by single- strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis and/or direct sequence analysis. Nucleotide sequence analysis showed single nucleotide substitutions involving codons 12, 13, or 61 in six of 20 patients (30%). Four of six patients with mutations were in chronic phase and the other two in blast crisis, indicating no apparent correlation with disease stage. Most of the patients with mutations were in the older age group with poor prognosis, although one patient in the younger age group also harbored the mutation. These data suggest that N-ras gene mutations may be involved in the pathogenesis and/or prognosis of JCML and provide further evidence that JCML is an entity distinct from CML.