To clarify the role of the MEN1 gene in the tumorigenesis of sporadic adrenocortical tumors, we performed a molecular study on 35 adrenocortical lesions including 6 hyperplasias, 19 adenomas and 10 carcinomas. Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of the MEN1 gene was assessed by PCR using an intragenic (D11S4946) and 2 flanking microsatellite markers (D11S4936, PYGM) and/or fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with a 40-kb cosmid probe containing the MEN1 gene. The complete coding sequence of the MEN1 gene was screened for mutations using non-radioactive, PCR-based single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis and MDE heteroduplex gel electrophoresis. PCR-LOH and FISH analyses performed in 29 tumors (PCR-LOH in 4, FISH in 17 and both in 8 tumors) revealed allelic deletion of the MEN1 locus in 8 (27.5%) and at 11q13 in 9 (31%) tumors. Furthermore, the frequency of LOH at 11q13 was significantly higher in adrenocortical carcinomas (60%) than in benign lesions (11%). Mutation analysis of tumor samples revealed 9 polymorphisms in 7 tumors (S145S, R171Q, R171Q together with L432L) but no mutations, with the exception of one adrenocortical adenoma. The latter tumor contained a somatic E109X stop codon mutation in exon 2 and a 5178–9G→A splice mutation in intron 4, which was also detectable in various non-tumorous tissues and blood indicative of a germ-line mutation. The patient, who had no clinical signs or family history of MEN1, later also developed a neuroendocrine carcinoma (atypical carcinoid) of the lung. Our findings indicate that inactivating mutations of the MEN1 tumor-suppressor gene appear not to play a prominent role in the development of sporadic hyperplastic or neoplastic lesions of the adrenal cortex and that the newly reported 5178–9G→A splice mutation in intron 4 might cause a variant of the MEN 1 phenotype. Int. J. Cancer 80:373–379, 1999. © 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.