In this study, we found an unexpected association (crude odds ratio = 2.8; 95% confidence interval = 0.9-8.4) between definite work-related exposure to asbestos and carcinoma of the urinary bladder in a small group of patients (n = 28) initially recruited as referents for an epidemiological feasibility study on the occupational causes of lung cancer. We extended the study by using molecular methods to examine mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene in the same cases of bladder cancers. The same number of archival samples of transitional cell carcinoma, mainly of grade 3, were added to the analysis. We failed to show any association between occupational exposure to asbestos and p53 mutations among bladder cancer patients. We observed an increasing occurrence of p53 mutations in nonsmokers (5 of 17, 29%), former smokers (8 of 21, 38%), and current smokers (9 of 16, 56%) in that order; however, this was not statistically significant. The most prevalent type of mutation was G:C to A:T transition. Tumor grade was not associated with the frequency of mutations, but the higher stage (T3-T4) tumors appeared to have mutations more frequently than did the less invasive tumors (T1-T2).