LOH at the NF1 locus was investigated in 38 neurofibromas of 26 NF1 patients. Only in one of these tumors LOH was observed. In this plexiform neurofibroma of a NF1 patient with a constitutional one base-pair insertion in NF1 exon 4b, a non-random X-inactivation pattern was found, strongly suggesting a clonal origin of the tumor cells. The analysis of X-inactivation patterns allowed the classification of some of the other neurofibromas with regard to the detectability of clonal LOH. In 3 of 6 neurofibromas without LOH amenable to this analysis, a comparable X-inactivation pattern was found in constitutional and neurofibroma derived DNA. A clonal LOH would not have been detected in these tumors. However, we observed a nonrandom pattern in 3 of the 6 neurofibromas, suggesting a clonal origin of the tumor cells. LOH was not detected in these tumors, but could, however, have occurred by mutational events below the level of large somatic deletions, loss of a whole chromosome 17 or somatic recombination.