Résumé : The increase in thyroid carcinoma post-Chernobyl has been largely confined to a specific subtype of papillary carcinoma (solid/follicular). This subtype is observed predominantly in children under 10 in unirradiated populations, but maintains a high frequency in those aged 10-15 from those areas exposed to fallout from the Chernobyl accident. The aim of this study was to link morphology with molecular biology. We examined 106 papillary carcinomas from children under the age of 15 at operation. All were examined for rearrangements of the RET oncogene by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR); a subset of these cases were also examined for mutations of the three ras oncogenes, exon 10 of the thyroid stimulating hormone receptor, associated more usually with a follicular rather than papillary morphology, and exons 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the p53 gene, commonly involved in undifferentiated thyroid carcinoma. Rearrangements of the REToncogene were found in 44% of papillary carcinomas in which we studied fresh material; none of the tumours examined showed mutation in any of the other genes. The two rearrangements resulting from inversion of part of chromosome 10 (PTC1 and PTC3) accounted for the majority of RET rearrangements identified, with PTC1 being associated with papillary carcinomas of the classic and diffuse sclerosing variants and PTC3 with the solid/follicular variant.