The p73 gene is a member of the p53 gene family and the structure and functions of p73 protein are similar to those of p53. However, these two proteins have different roles. In the present study, p73 protein was found immunohistochemically to be distributed in the basal cells of the epidermis, columnar basal cells in the hair follicle and peripheral cells without lipid droplets in the sebaceous and meibomian glands; it was expressed strongly in tumor cells in basal cell carcinomas and in the basal cell-like cells in seborrheic keratosis, and weakly or negatively in the squamous cell-like cells in seborrheic keratosis and in the tumor cells in squamous cell carcinomas. No relationship was detected between p73 and p53 protein distribution and between p73 protein expression and the proliferative potential, as shown by the Ki-67 immunopositive cell ratio. The present study shows that p73 protein is likely to play important roles in skin differentiation rather than proliferation or carcinogenesis of the skin.