von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) is an autosomal dominant, familial neoplastic disorder with variable interfamilial and intrafamilial expression. VHL is characterized by pre-disposition to development of a combination of benign and malignant tumours affecting multiple organs. We provide molecular evidence of somatic mosaicism in nearly asymptomatic man whose daughter had VHL. The mosaic subject was found to have a cyst of the kidney and an angioma of the glans penis and had had surgery for a mandibular cyst and epididymal cystadenomas. Mosaicism could provide a genetic explanation for the clinical heterogeneity and variable severity of VHL. The real incidence of mosaicism is still unclear and the identification of mosaicism has important consequences in genetic counseling of VHL patients who appear to have de novo VHL mutations and should be considered when evaluating patients with isolated VHL-related tumours. Our results strongly suggest a complete and extensive clinical examination in the parents of each patient affected by an apparently de novo VHL germline mutation. We recommend performing a mutation screening of both parents of a proband with techniques that permit detection of low percentages of mosaicism before concluding that the proband has a de novo VHL mutation.