Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is known to be associated with several extracolonic cancers, e.g., cancers of the endometrium, stomach, urinary tract, small bowel and ovary. An association between HNPCC and brain tumours has also been reported, although previous risk analysis did not reveal an excess of this type of tumour. To determine whether HNPCC predisposes patients to brain tumours, we used risk analysis to compare families with HNPCC to those in the general population. Of the 1,321 subjects from 50 HNPCC families (with 60,237 person-years of follow-up) in the Dutch HNPCC Registry which satisfy the Amsterdam Criteria, 312 had colorectal cancer. The registry revealed 14 brain tumours in the HNPCC-patients and their first-degree relatives: 5 astrocytomas, 3 oligodendrogliomas, 1 ependymoma and 5 tumours for which a pathological report was not available. The relative risk of brain tumour in patients with HNPCC and their first-degree relatives was 6 times greater than in the general population (95% confidence interval, 3.5 to 10.1). After exclusion of the cases based only on family history, the relative risk was 4.3 (95% confidence interval, 2.3 to 8.0). Although the relative risk of brain tumour was increased, the lifetime risk was low (3.35%). Because it is not certain whether an improvement of the overall prognosis can be achieved by early diagnosis and intervention, and in view of the low lifetime risk, we do not recommend screening for brain tumours in HNPCC families.