Through allele-segregation and loss-of-heterozygosity analyses, we demonstrated loss of the translocation-derivative chromosome 3 in five independent renal cell tumors of the clear-cell type, obtained from three members of a family in which a constitutional t(2;3)(q35;q21) was encountered. In addition, analysis of the von Hippel-Lindau gene, VHL, revealed distinct insertion, deletion, and substitution mutations in four of the five tumors tested. On the basis of these results, we conclude that, in this familial case, an alternative route for renal cell carcinoma development is implied. In contrast to the first hit in the generally accepted two-hit tumor-suppressor model proposed by Knudson, the familial translocation in this case may act as a primary oncogenic event leading to (nondisjunctional) loss of the der(3) chromosome harboring the VHL tumor-suppressor gene. The risk of developing renal cell cancer may be correlated directly with the extent of somatic (kidney) mosaicism resulting from this loss.