Karyotypic complexities associated with frequent loss or rearrangement of a number of chromosome arms, deletions, and mutations affecting the TP53 region, and molecular alterations of the INK4A gene have been reported in sporadic and/or neurofibromatosis type I (NF1)-related malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs). However, no investigations addressing possible different pathogenetic pathways in sporadic and NF1-associated MPNSTs have been reported. This lack is unexpected because, despite similar morphologic and immunophenotypic features, NF1-related cases are, by definition, associated with NF1 gene defects. Thus, we investigated the occurrence of TP53 and p16(INK4A) gene deregulation and the presence of microsatellite alterations at markers located at 17p, 17q, 9p21, 22q, 11q, 1p, or 2q loci in MPNSTs and neurofibromas either related (14 cases) or unrelated (14 cases) to NF1. Our results indicate that, in MPNSTs, p16(INK4A) inactivation almost equally affects both groups. However, TP53 mutations and loss of heterozygosity involving the TP53 locus (43% versus 9%), and p53 wild type overexpression, related or not to mdm2 overexpression (71% versus 25%), seem to mainly be restricted to sporadic MPNSTs. In NF1-associated MPNSTs, our microsatellite results are consistent with the occurrence of somatic inactivation by loss of heterozygosity of the second NF1 allele.