Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused by degeneration of motor neurons of the spinal cord and brain. The majority of ALS cases are sporadic (SALS). However, in 10-15% of ALS cases the disease is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait (familial ALS or FALS). We used a non-radioactive SSCP method, in combination with solid phase sequencing, to screen the entire SOD1 (Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase) coding region and flanking intronic sequences for mutations. Twenty-three patients from 11 ALS families and 69 SALS patients of Belgian origin were studied. Three different mutations were identified (L38V, D90A and G93C) in seven families. Importantly, the D90A was only found in the heterozygous state. In addition two single base pair variants (IVS1 + 19G > A and AAC139 AAT) were identified in two SALS patients. These results suggest that the SOD1 analysis is useful in FALS but less so in SALS cases. The SSCP analysis has proved fast and reliable for this purpose.