The human p53 tumor suppressor gene is located at the short arm of chromosome 17. A germinative mutation (Arg337His) in the tetramerization domain of p53 has been frequently identified in Brazilian children with sporadic adrenocortical tumors. Loss of heterozygosity at this region was demonstrated in the majority of the cases. In the present study, we performed deletion mapping of chromosome 17 in 30 adrenocortical tumors from 29 Brazilian patients (15 children and 14 adults). One boy had bilateral adrenocortical tumor. Sixteen patients had the germinative Arg337His mutation. Loss of heterozygosity analysis using six polymorphic microsatellite markers disclosed loss of the entire chromosome 17 in 18 tumors (10 adenomas and eight carcinomas) from 17 patients. The Arg337His mutation was present in 13 of them. Chromosomal instability involving chromosomes 2, 9, and 11 was also found in 47, 47, and 70% of the 17 patients who exhibited chromosome 17 losses, respectively. The concomitant loss of chromosomes 2, 9, 11, and 17 was evidenced exclusively in malignant tumors. Therefore, chromosomal instability involving three or more chromosomes may contribute to define the malignant adrenocortical lesions. In conclusion, we demonstrated a high frequency of biallelic inactivation of p53 derived from two distinct events, the germinative Arg337His mutation and the acquired loss of the entire chromosome 17. In addition, the isolated loss of the entire chromosome 17 did not correlate with aggressive tumor behavior in these patients with adrenocortical tumors.