The identification of germline mutations in a large number of clinically well-characterised patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) has allowed the unravelling of several genotype-phenotype relationships that can now be interpreted in the light of the structure and functional domains of the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) protein. An attenuated phenotype has been found to be associated with mutations at the 5' end of the gene, while a severe clinical expression was found in patients with the most common mutation at codon 1309. So far, only few mutations in the 3' half of the gene have been published. We report on two families with a rather mild phenotype due to a frameshift mutation at codon 1597. These families may represent a clue for defining a 5' border for the occurrence of a second region of attenuated FAP that is localised in the 3' part of the APC gene. We propose a model to explain the relationship between the severity of the disease and the size of the mutant APC protein.