We have recently described the isolation of a candidate for the Wilms' tumor susceptibility gene mapping to band p13 of human chromosome 11. This gene, primarily expressed in fetal kidney, appears to encode a DNA binding protein. We now describe a sporadic, unilateral Wilms' tumor in which one allele of this gene contains a 25 bp deletion spanning an exon-intron junction and leading to aberrant mRNA splicing and loss of one of the four zinc finger consensus domains in the protein. The mutation is absent in the affected individual's germline, consistent with the somatic inactivation of a tumor suppressor gene. In addition to this intragenic deletion affecting one allele, loss of heterozygosity at loci along the entire chromosome 11 points to an earlier chromosomal nondisjunction and reduplication. We conclude that inactivation of this gene, which we call WT1, is part of a series of events leading to the development of Wilms' tumor.