The effects of viral or activated cellular oncogenes on sensitivity to γ rays, ultraviolet light, and heat shock were examined in SHOK (Syrian hamster Osaka-Kanazawa) cells and their transfectants. Resistance to γ rays was conferred by the introduction of v-mos or c-cot genes, which coded serine/threonine kinase. Cells transfected with v-mos and c-cot genes increased their resistance to ultraviolet light and heat shock compared to their parent cells (SHOK cells). Of the activated ras genes, the N-ras gene developed a SHOK cell phenotype resistant to γ rays and ultraviolet light. The Ha-ras gene produced SHOK cells resistant to ultraviolet light and heat shock, while introduction of the Ki-ras gene did not affect sensitivity. The v-erbB gene was found to be involved in the development of resistance to heat shock. Transfection with neo, c-myc, and v-fgr genes had little or no effect on cell survival. The karyotypes of SHOK cells and oncogene-containing cells were compared. No alterations were seen after the introduction of a foreign gene. Using cell cycle analysis, we found no apparent difference between SHOK cells and their transfectants. These results suggest that activation of serine/threonine kinase may be involved in common processes occurring after γ-ray, ultraviolet-light, and heat-shock treatment, and that each oncogene may have a different effect on the development of a resistant phenotype.