p53, p63 and p73 are members of the p53 gene family involved in development, differentiation and response to cellular stress. p53 gene is a transcription factor essential for the prevention of cancer formation. The p53 pathway is ubiquitously lost in human cancer either by p53 gene mutation ( 60% of cancers) or by lost of cell signalling upstream and downstream of p53 in the remaining cancers expressing WTp53 gene. As p53 pathway inactivation is a common denominator to all cancers, the understanding of p53 tumour suppressor activity is likely to bring us closer to cancer therapy. However, despite all the experimental evidences showing the importance of p53 in preventing carcinogenesis, it is difficult in clinical studies to link p53 status to cancer treatment and clinical outcome. The recent discovery that p53 gene encodes for nine different p53 proteins ( isoforms) may have a profound impact on our understanding of p53 tumour suppressor activity. Studies in several tumour types have shown that the nine different p53 isoforms are abnormally expressed in tumour tissues compared to normal cells. p53 protein isoforms modulate p53 transcriptional activity and cell fate outcome in response to stress. Regulation of p53 function in normal and tumour tissues in man is likely to be more complex than has been hitherto appreciated. Therefore, the tumour p53 status needs to be determined more accurately by integrating p53 isoform expression, functional p53 mutation analysis and a panel of antibodies specific of p53 and of its target genes.