Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN 2A) is associated with specific germline missense mutations in the RET proto-oncogene. This locus encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase whose activation requires the formation of a multimeric receptor complex including GDNF as a ligand and GFRα1 as a coreceptor. In order to explore the role of RET, GFRα1 and GDNF genes in the variation of phenotypes observed in MEN2A families, we analysed germline mutations of these genes in 4 unrelated Spanish MEN2A families (23 cases studied). We found 2 novel variants corresponding to a single change in position + 47 (intron 12) of RET and position +22 (intron 7) of GFRα1. Furthermore, we observed strong co-segregation between 2 polymorphisms of RET [G691S (exon 11) and S904S (TCC-TCG, exon 15) (100%, Fisher's exact test, p< 0.001)]. More interestingly, we found that these polymorphisms occurred at a significantly high frequency in patients with age at onset < 20 years old (Kruskal-Wallis's and Fisher's exact test, p = 0.007). These findings suggest that the G691S and S904S variants of RET may somehow play a role on the age of onset of MEN 2A. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.