Abstract We have analyzed 43 families with either familial retinoblastoma (RB) (four kindreds), bilateral sporadic RB (10 individuals), or unilateral sporadic RB (29 individuals). Genetic studies focused on karyotype analysis, loss of heterozygosity of intragenic polymorphisms, and search for point mutations. We have been able to identify the genetic defect underlying the disease in eight cases. Deletions have been found in three patients with sporadic RB, two bilateral in one of which karyotyping had previously detected an interstitial deletion of chromosome 13 affecting (q13–q31) and one unilateral. Five different point mutations were responsible for three cases of bilateral sporadic RB, one case of unilateral sporadic RB, and one case of bilateral familial RB. The low frequency of constitutional mutations found in our study has led us to review and evaluate the possibilities and limitations of the present genetic analyses on RB and to access the different factors influencing the detection of mutations causing the disease, because genetic counseling is mainly based on mutation identification.