AIMS: To compare the expression of c-myc and c-fms proto-oncogenes in the placenta and hydatidiform mole. METHODS: Twelve hydatidiform moles and six induced abortion cases were collected. c-myc and c-fms proto-oncogene expression was analysed by northern blot hybridisation and immunohistochemical staining. RESULTS: The results of northern blot hybridisation analysis showed that c-fms was expressed more strongly in hydatidiform moles compared with normal placenta of similar gestational age. Moreover, c-fms mRNA concentrations increased with more advanced gestational age in moles but not in normal placentas. c-myc expression was very low in hydatidiform moles and normal placentas. Both oncogenes, however, had no direct correlation with the clinical course of the molar pregnancies. CONCLUSION: The difference in c-fms expression between hydatidiform moles and normal placentas suggests that c-fms may have a role in the development of molar pregnancies.