Central nervous system (CNS) tumours are the most common solid tumours in children. Cytogenetic and molecular genetic studies of these neoplasms have previously shown abnormalities of chromosome 17, implicating genes on this autosome in tumorigenesis. To identify mutations in the TP53 tumour suppressor gene (17p13.1), we have sequenced the five highly conserved regions of this gene in 29 mixed paediatric CNS tumors. No mutations were detected by this analysis. In order to identify other candidate disease loci on chromosome 17, we have carried out a detailed deletion mapping analysis using 16 polymorphic DNA markers on 19 of the above tumours and an additional four cases. Abnormalities of chromosome 17 occurred in nine cases (39%), six of which were primitive neuroectodermal tumour (PNET)-medulloblastomas. These findings suggest that it is unlikely that the TP53 gene is directly involved in the development of common paediatric brain tumours. This is in contrast to findings from adult brain and other tumour types. Moreover, the frequency of chromosome 17 aberrations, especially in PNET-medulloblastomas, suggests that other genes on this chromosome contribute to tumourigenesis.