Nephronophthisis (NPHP), an autosomal recessive kidney disease, is the most frequent genetic cause of chronic renal failure in the first three decades of life. Mutations in eight genes (NPHP1–8) have been identified. We here describe a combined approach for mutation screening of NPHP1, NPHP2, NPHP3, NPHP4, and NPHP5 in a worldwide cohort of 470 unrelated patients with NPHP. First, homozygous NPHP1 deletions were detected in 97 patients (21%) by multiplex PCR. Second, 25 patients with infantile NPHP were screened for mutations in inversin (NPHP2/INVS). We detected a novel compound heterozygous frameshift mutation (p.[Q485fs]+[R687fs]), and a homozygous nonsense mutation (p.R899X). Third, 37 patients presenting with NPHP and retinitis pigmentosa (Senior-Løken syndrome [SLS]) were screened for NPHP5/IQCB1 mutations by direct sequencing. We discovered five different (three novel) homozygous premature termination codon (PTC) mutations (p.F142fsX; p.R461X; p.R489X; p.W444X; and c.488–1G>A). The remaining 366 patients were further investigated for mutations in NPHP1, NPHP3, and NPHP4. We applied a “homozygosity only” strategy and typed three highly polymorphic microsatellite markers at the respective loci. A total of 32, eight, and 14 patients showed homozygosity, and were screened by heteroduplex crude celery extract (CEL I) endonuclease digests. The sensitivity of CEL I was established as 92%, as it detected 73 out of 79 different known mutations simply on agarose gels. A total of 10 novel PTC mutations were found in NPHP1 (p.P186fs, p.R347X, p.V492fs, p.Y509X, and c.1884+1G>A), in NPHP3 (c.3812+2T>C and p.R1259X), and in NPHP4 (p.R59X, p.T1004fs, and p.V1091fs). The combined homozygosity mapping and CEL I endonuclease mutation analysis approach allowed us to identify rare mutations in a large cohort of patients at low cost. Hum Mutat 29(3), 418–426, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.