Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is an autosomal dominantly inherited cancer syndrome associated with germline mutations in DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes. Recently a polymorphism at codon 72 (R72P) in the tumour suppressor gene TP53 has been implicated in the age of disease onset in HNPCC. In this report we have studied a large cohort of HNPCC patients to assess the impact of this polymorphism on disease expression and age of diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC). DNA samples from 218 HNPCC mutation positive patients from Australia and Poland were genotyped for the arginine to proline change at codon 72 in the TP53 gene. The association between the polymorphism and disease characteristics (mutation status, disease expression and age of diagnosis of CRC) was tested using Pearson's Chi-square and Kaplan–Meier survival analysis. Our study of Australian and Polish HNPCC patients does not provide evidence for an association between the Arg/Pro (GC) genotype of the R72P polymorphism and age of diagnosis of CRC. The R72P polymorphism was examined in HNPCC patients and found to be not associated with disease development in either the Australian or Polish populations. When gene mutation status (hMLH1 or hMSH2) was included in the analysis some evidence of an affect was observed. The genotyping revealed in the Australian population that the R72P polymorphism was under-represented in the hMSH2 group whereas it was over-represented in the Polish hMSH2 group. A similar trend was observed for hMLH1 in both groups but was not significant. Age of diagnosis of CRC in HNPCC patients is therefore more complex than that predicted by the R72P TP53 polymorphism alone, suggesting an inter-relationship with other genetic and/or environmental factors. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.