Isoform expression of CD44 In follicular carcinoma (FC) of the thyroid was analyzed by immunohistochemical staining and compared to the isoforms in follicular adenoma (FA) and papillary carcinoma (PC) of the thyroid. Variant isoforms of CD44 (CD44v) were detected in these neoplastic cells but not in non-neoplastic cells. CD44v6 was expressed in PC with nodal metastasis and also in FC at significantly higher frequencies than those in PC without metastasis and FA. The frequency of expression of CD44v3 was significantly higher in PC with nodal metastasis than in PC without metastasis. The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) followed by Southern blotting analysis revealed the presence of a transcript for a variant of CD44 that contained variant exon 6 in FA, FC and PC. DNA sequencing of the products of RT-PCR yielded three species of cDNA for CD44v. One of the cDNA corresponded to a transcript that contained variant exon 6. These results suggest that immunohistochemical staining and RT-PCR with Southern blotting analysis for CD44v6 might be a useful diagnostic tool for the differentiation of FC from FA and that the expression of CD44v3 and CD44v6 might be important for the development of nodal metastasis in cases of PC.