Oncogenes are genes whose expression has been associated with malignant transformation of cells in tissue culture and with neoplastic change in vivo (Bishop, 1987). Much of the current understanding of their nature and action has stemmed from work, over the past 20 years, on tumour viruses (Temin, 1971; Rapp, 1983). One group of tumour viruses, the retroviruses, are unique in possessing an enzyme, reverse transcriptase, which transcribes to the cell DNA a copy of the viral RNA genome (Marks, 1987). After the discovery of viral oncogenes, such DNA copies were used as probes in hybridisation studies (Stehelin et al, 1976; Frankel & Fischinger, 1976). These probes, capable of annealing to complementary DNA sequences, revealed the existence of the latter in normal, unaffected cells (Willecke & Schäfer, 1984). These sequences, called cellular or proto-oncogenes, exist in a wide range of eukaryotic organisms, from yeast to man.