Background/Aims: The relationship between Runt-related transcription factor 3 (RUNX3) gene inactivation and various solid tumors has been reported; however, little information is available about RUNX3 in thyroid cancers. Methods: We evaluated the DNA methylation of RUNX3 in 13 papillary thyroid cancer tissues and four thyroid cancer cell lines. Additionally, using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, we analyzed RUNX3 gene expression in several thyroid cancer cell lines after treating with the demethylating agent 5-aza-2``-deoxycytidine (DAC). Results: RUNX3 was hypermethylated in many thyroid cancer cell lines and in 10 of the 12 papillary thyroid cancer tissues. Treatment with DAC increased the expression of RUNX3 in some thyroid cancer cell lines. Conclusions: We suggest that RUNX3 is associated with thyroid carcinogenesis, and RUNX3 methylation is a potentially useful diagnostic marker for papillary thyroid cancer.