Eighty-six women fulfilling specific selection criteria were studied for germline mutations in two breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, using the protein truncation test (PTT). Nine germline mutations were identified, six in BRCA1 and three in BRCA2. Of the six BRCA1 mutations, three have previously been described and three are new, and for BRCA2, one is a new mutation and the other two appear to occur at a site that has been described several times. Four kindreds were breast cancer families, one a breast/ovarian cancer family, and the sixth an ovarian cancer family. The three kindreds with BRCA2 mutations were classified as one breast/ovarian cancer family, one breast cancer family, and one family which harboured one early onset breast cancer patient and two melanoma patients. The mutations in BRCA1 were either insertions, deletions, or transitions which all resulted in a premature stop codon. Mutations in BRCA2 were all frameshift mutations as a result of either 2 or 4 bp deletions. Two BRCA2 mutations were identical, suggesting a Swiss founder effect which was confirmed by haplotype sharing. The 10% mutation detection rate is compatible with the relaxed criteria used for patient selection. Considering the relative ease with which coding sequences can be screened by PTT, this assay is useful as a first screen for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.