We identified a novel germ-line p53 mutation in the noncoding, nonsplicing regions of a Li-Fraumeni family. Patients belonging to this family included pediatric medulloblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma patients and a breast carcinoma patient. Three positions in the p53 gene were analyzed for loss of heterozygosity (LOH). One of the three loci retained heterozygosity, whereas the other two exhibited LOH. Sequence analysis of the third locus identified a change of 5'-CCGGGTGA-3' to 5'-CCAGGTTGGA-3', 63 bp downstream of exon 6. The mutation was identified in the germ line of the two pediatric patients and in each of the related parents. We excluded any additional mutation in the entire coding region of the p53 gene, including splice-site intronic sequences. Strong positive nuclear staining of the p53 protein was detected in both normal and tumor paraffin-embedded tissues. Eighty-five normal persons were negative for this alteration, which thus supports it as a mutation. These results may indicate that genetic changes within the noncoding region of the p53 gene may serve as an alternative mechanism of activating this gene. Mutations in the noncoding region of this gene should be further studied.