Genetic screening for ret mutation has become routine practice in the evaluation of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). Approximately 25% of these tumours are familial, and they occur as components of the multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 syndromes (MEN 2A and 2B) or familial MTC. In familial cases, the majority of mutations are found in exons 10, 11, 13, 14 or 15 of the ret gene. A rare mutation involving exon 8 (G533C) has recently been reported in familial cases of MTC in Brazil and Greece; some of these cases were originally thought to be sporadic. The aim of this study was to re-evaluate a series of sporadic cases of MTC, with negative family history, and screen them for germline mutations in exon 8.