Activating mutations in the RAS oncogenes are among the most common genetic alterations in human cancers, including patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We sought to define the frequency and spectrum, and possible prognostic importance, of N- and K-RAS mutations in children with ALL treated with contemporary therapy. Leukemic blast DNA from 870 children was analyzed for the presence of activating mutations in the N- or K-RAS oncogenes using a sensitive mutation detection algorithm. RAS mutations were present in the blasts of 131 (15.1%) pediatric ALL patients. The spectrum of mutations included 81 (9.3%) mutations of codons 12/13 of N-RAS, 12 (1.4%) mutations of codon 61 of N-RAS, 39 (4.5%) mutations of codons 12/13 of K-RAS, and 2 (0.2%) mutations of codon 61 of K-RAS. The presence of N- or K-RAS mutations was not associated with white blood cell count at diagnosis, sex, race, extramedullary testicular involvement, central nervous system disease, or NCI/CTEP ALL Risk Group. Patients with an axon 1 K-RAS mutation (codons 12/13) were significantly younger at diagnosis (P=0.001) and less frequently B-lineage phenotype (P=0.01). RAS mutation status did not predict overall survival, event-free survival and disease-free survival. While N- and K-RAS mutations can be identified in 15% of children with newly diagnosed ALL, they do not represent a significant risk factor for outcome using contemporary chemotherapy regimens. © 2004 Nature Publishing Group All rights reserved.