DNA derived from medulloblastoma biopsies was analyzed to determine if deletions of the 17p region, mutations of the TP53 gene, or amplification of the c-myc, N-myc, EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor), or MDM2 (murine double-minute-2) genes was indicative of a poor prognosis. Loss of heterozygosity for 17p, observed in 8/28 (29%) paired samples, was associated with a shortened survival period (p = 0.045 by the logrank test). TP53 mutations occurred in 2/46 (4.3%) tumor samples. c-myc Amplification was seen in 3/43 (6.9%) cases, while none of the tumors contained amplified N-myc, EGFR, or MDM2 genes. These results demonstrate that, while only rare medulloblastomas contain TP53 gene mutations or amplification of the c-myc gene, loss of heterozygosity on chromosome 17p is indicative of a significantly worse prognosis among patients with these tumors. Further, these results provide a strong impetus for a prospective analysis of loss of heterozygosity in a cooperative group setting, which would include tumor staging, a selection of treatment modalities, and multivariate analyses.