Biallelic NF2 gene inactivation is frequently found in human malignant mesothelioma. In order to assess whether NF2 hemizygosity may enhance susceptibility to asbestos fibres, we investigated the Nf2 status in mesothelioma developed in mice presenting a heterozygous mutation of the Nf2 gene (Nf2(KO3/+)), after intraperitoneal inoculation of crocidolite fibres. Asbestos-exposed Nf2(KO3/+) mice developed tumoural ascites and mesothelioma at a higher frequency than their wild-type (WT) counterparts (P&<0.05). Six out of seven mesothelioma cell lines established from neoplastic ascitic fluids of Nf2(KO3/+) mice exhibited loss of the WT Nf2 allele and no neurofibromatosis type 2 protein expression was found in these cells. The results show the importance of the NF2 gene in mesothelial oncogenesis, the potential association of asbestos exposure and tumour suppressor gene inactivation, and suggest that NF2 gene mutation may be a susceptibility factor to asbestos.