Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) is an autosomal inherited disorder that predisposes carriers to nervous system tumors. To examine genotype-phenotype correlations in NF2, we performed mutation analyses and gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging of the head and full spine in 59 unrelated NF2 patients. In patients with vestibular schwannomas (VSs) or identified NF2 mutations, the mild phenotype was defined as < 2 other intracranial tumors and < or = 4 spinal tumors, and the severe phenotype as either > or = 2 other intracranial tumors of > 4 spinal tumors. Nineteen mutations were found in 20 (34%) of the patients and were distributed in 12 of the 17 exons of the NF2 gene, including intron-exon boundaries. Seven mutations were frameshift, six were nonsense, four were splice site, two were missense, and one was a 3-bp in frame deletion. The nonsense mutations included one codon 57 and two codon 262 C-->T transition in CpG dinucleotides. The frameshift and nonsense NF2 mutations occurred primarily in patients with severe phenotypes. The two missense mutations occurred in patients with mild phenotypes, and three of the four splice site mutations occurred in families with both mild and severe phenotypes. Truncating NF2 mutations are usually associated with severe phenotypes, but the association of some mutations with mild and severe phenotypes indicates that NF2 expression is influenced by stochastic, epigenetic, or environmental factors.