The identification of mutations in the NF1 gene causing type 1 neurofibromatosis (NF1) has presented a considerable challenge because of the large size of the gene, the lack of significant mutational clustering, the diversity of the underlying pathological lesions and the presence of NF1 pseudogenes. Denaturing high performance liquid chromatography (DHPLC), a high throughput, non-hazardous and largely automated heteroduplex-based technique, is in many ways ideally suited to mutation detection in this condition. DHPLC was therefore optimised for the rapid screening of the 60 exons and splice junctions of the NF1 gene in patients with NF1. The sensitivity of DHPLC was evaluated in a retrospective study of a cohort of 111 unrelated NF1 patients with known germline mutations; 97% of mutations were detected. In a subsequent prospective analysis of 50 unrelated NF1 patients, germline mutations were identified in 34 individuals (68%), 22 of these alterations being novel. This represents the highest rate of mutation detection so far reported for the NF1 gene with a single screening technique and genomic DNA as a target.