Isochromosome 17q has previously been observed consistently in cytogenetic studies of medulloblastoma, the most common posterior fossa neoplasm in children. We performed a restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) investigation of medulloblastoma which showed a loss of chromosome 17p sequences in 45% of these tumors. This finding was predictive of a poor clinical response to treatment. A contiguous panel of markers permitted mapping of the deletion to 17p12-p13.1, the same chromosomal region for which loss of alleles has been shown in tumor specimens from patients with colon cancer, and the same region to which the p53 gene has been mapped. This suggests that medulloblastoma is associated with a recessive oncogene on chromosome 17p that may be involved in the genesis of several embryologically unrelated neoplasms and that the absence of this gene in tumor tissue has prognostic significance.