Changes in the tumor-suppressor gene p53 are frequently acquired during the course of malignant development of human tumors. Recently, constitutional heterozygous mutations in p53 exon 7 have been identified as the primary cause of cancer predisposition in cases of the familial Li-Fraumeni cancer syndrome. These findings underline the need for extensive mutation screening in families with high cancer incidence. This report describes the detection and follow-up by two-dimensional single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis (2DSSCP) of a new germline mutation of p53 exon 8 in a case of suspected Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Although a high cancer incidence had been reported in the family history of the father of siblings suffering from brain tumor and rhabdomyosarcoma, a constitutional heterozygous p53 mutation was identified only in the affected children. Retrospective analysis of archival tissue of a half-sister who died several years ago from a tumor of previously uncertain diagnosis revealed the same mutation. The mutation had therefore occurred in the germ cells of the mother, who thus appears to be a mosaic. The cancer predisposition of the paternal ancestors must have been due to other factors.