Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) (Amsterdam criteria) is often caused by mutations in mismatch repair (MMR) genes, and tumors of patients with HNPCC show microsatellite instability (MSI-high phenotype). Germline mutations of MMR genes have rarely been found in families that have HNPCC or suspected HNPCC and that do not show microsatellite instability (MSI-low phenotype). Therefore, an MSI-high phenotype is often used as an inclusion criterion for mutation testing of MMR genes. Correction of base-base mismatches is the major function of MSH6. Since mismatches present with an MSI-low phenotype, we assumed that the phenotype in patients with HNPCC-related tumors might be associated with MSH6 germline mutations. We divided 36 patients with suspected HNPCC into an MSI-low group (n=18) and an MSI-high group (n=18), on the basis of the results of MSI testing. Additionally, three unrelated patients from Amsterdam families with MSI-low tumors were investigated. All patients were screened for MSH2, MLH1, and MSH6 mutations. Four presumably causative MSH6 mutations were detected in the patients (22%) who had suspected HNPCC and MSI-low tumors. Furthermore, we detected one frameshift mutation in one of the three patients with HNPCC and MSI-low tumors. In the MSI-high group, one MSH6 missense mutation was found, but the same patient also had an MLH1 mutation, which may explain the MSI-high phenotype. These results suggest that MSH6 may be involved in a substantial proportion of patients with HNPCC or suspected HNPCC and MSI-low tumors. Our data emphasize that an MSI-low phenotype cannot be considered an exclusion criterion for mutation testing of MMR genes in general.