A total of 500 unselected unrelated neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) patients were screened for deletions of the NF1 gene. After excluding 67 patients with known intragenic NF1 mutations, the remaining 433 were genotyped using six intragenic and one distal microsatellite marker for the NF1 gene. A total of 28 patients were hemi- or homozygous for all seven markers and were thus considered as candidates for NF1 deletion with a calculated probability of 99.99%. Metaphase or interphase cells were available from 23 of these 28 individuals for molecular cytogenetics. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) confirmed an NF1 deletion in 22 (96%) of the 23 patients. Thus, a constitutional deletion of the NF1 gene is responsible for the disease phenotype in at least 4.4% of the 500 unselected NF1 patients. Genotyping using multiple microsatellite markers may provide a simple, inexpensive, and efficient strategy for screening deletions of the NF1 gene, and can as well be applied for other large genes. Hum Mutat 23:111–116, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.