The RET proto-oncogene codes for a receptor tyrosine kinase thought to play a role in the development of neural crest and its derivatives. Mutations in the RET proto-oncogene have been found in patients with the multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 syndromes (MEN 2), the related sporadic tumours medullary thyroid carcinoma and pheochromocytoma, and familial and sporadic Hirschsprung disease, a syndrome of congenital absence of enteric innervation. Germline mutations in one of eight codons within RET cause the three subtypes of MEN 2, namely, MEN 2A, MEN 2B, and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma. Somatic mutation in an overlapping group of nine codons have been found in a proportion of sporadic medullary thyroid carcinoma and pheochromocytoma. In contrast to MEN 2, approximately 25% of patients with Hirschsprung disease have germline mutations scattered throughout the length of RET.