We have analysed 81 families with a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer for the presence of germline mutations in BRCA2 with a number of different mutation screening techniques. The protein truncation test (PTT) for exons 10 and 11 detected four different frame-shifting mutations in six of these families. Four of the remaining 75 families had given positive linkage evidence for being due to BRCA2. In these families the entire coding region was analysed by single-strand conformational polymorphism, leading to the detection of a non-sense and a splice-site mutation in two of them. While these studies were in progress, Southern analysis of BRCA1 revealed that in our study-population of 81 families, 15 families were segregating either the exon 13 or exon 22 deletion in BRCA1 (Petrij-Bosch et al (1997) Nat Genet 17: 341-345). This prompted us to examine BRCA2 in the remaining 58 families by Southern analysis, using two different restriction enzymes. No aberrations were found in the restriction patterns. Thus, contrary to BRCA1, large genomic rearrangements within the BRCA2 gene do not represent a major mutation mechanism among Dutch breast cancer families.