This report describes an unusual clinical presentation of Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Family history revealed a mild aggregation of adult cancers in one generation, and an unusual clustering of brain tumours of early childhood in the following generation. In order to evaluate the genetic basis for cancer predisposition in this family, molecular genetic analysis for the occurrence of germline TP53 tumour suppressor gene mutations was performed on 12 siblings of two generations. Indirect mutation analysis was performed by the single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) technique. Alterations were characterised by automated direct fluorescence sequencing analysis. Tumour material was also examined for p53 protein accumulation by immunohistochemistry. Initially, a TP53 gene germline missense mutation was detected in an 11-year-old kindred with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) following intensive treatment of a brain tumour. In peripheral blood and bone marrow samples of this proband, a reduction to hemizygosity occurred. During AML treatment, detection of LOH of 17p was used as a marker for clonality and treatment control. The mutation was found to be inherited from the proband's mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 48 years. Further, three siblings were carriers, and two are apparently healthy at the age of 21 and 23 years. Knowledge of germline mutations may allow accurate DNA-based carrier diagnosis which is of important clinical significance for treatment strategy and control. Furthermore, the occurrence of unaffected carriers in this family raises questions about appropriate methods of cancer surveillance and counselling for these people.