Germline alterations in one of five human DNA mismatch repair genes (hMSH2, hMLH1, hPMS1, hPMS2, and hMSH6) cause hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. Mutation analyses of these genes reveal gene carriers with a high risk for colorectal cancer, who benefit from surveillance to prevent disease. Equally important, presymptomatic testing allows nondisposed individuals to discontinue surveillance. We tested different mutation screening methods to optimize mutation detection in hMSH2 and hMLH1. Affected members from a total of 142 unrelated colorectal cancer families were analyzed. Denaturant gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), RT-PCR, and the protein truncation test (PTT) were used to screen for mutations on a DNA or RNA basis, respectively. In addition, a mutation-specific test on genomic DNA was used to find the Finnish mutation no. 1, a deletion of hMLH1 exon 16. DGGE identified most of the mutations in the mismatch repair genes hMLH1 and hMSH2. The RNA-based techniques were used to identify large deletions; however, these were rare in our materials. We describe our compiled results and experience from all our mutation screening studies, as well as unpublished data from our last DGGE screening of 58 patients and RT-PCR and PTT screening of 73 patients.