About 10% of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) patients develop malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) and represent considerable patient morbidity and mortality. Elucidation of the genetic mechanisms by which inherited and acquired NF1 disease gene variants lead to MPNST development is important. A study was undertaken to identify the constitutional and somatic NF1 mutations in 34 MPNSTs from 27 NF1 patients. The NF1 germline mutations identified in 22 lymphocytes DNA from these patients included seven novel mutations and a large 1.4-Mb deletion. The NF1 germline mutation spectrum was similar to that previously identified in adult NF1 patients without MPNST. Somatic NF1 mutations were identified in tumor DNA from 31 out of 34 MPNSTs, of which 28 were large genomic deletions. The high prevalence (>90%) of such deletions in MPNST contrast with the ⪕20% found in benign neurofibromas and is indicative of the involvement of different mutational mechanisms in these tumors. Coinactivation of the TP53 gene by deletion, or by point mutation along with NF1 gene inactivation, is known to exacerbate disease symptoms in NF1, therefore TP53 gene inactivation was screened. DNA from 20 tumors showed evidence for loss of heterozygosity (LOH) across the TP53 region in 11 samples, with novel TP53 point mutations in four tumors. Hum Mutat 29(1), 74–82, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.