We detected a germ-line mutation of the p53 gene in a patient with a malignant ependymoma of the posterior fossa. This mutation, which was found at codon 242, resulted in an amino acid substitution in a highly conserved site of exon 7 of the p53 gene; the same mutation was found in both the germ-line and the tumor tissue. This is the most common region of previously described somatic p53 mutations in tumor specimens and of the germ-line p53 mutations in patients with the Li-Fraumeni cancer syndrome. Evaluation of the patient's family revealed several direct maternal and paternal relatives who had died at a young age from different types of cancer. The association of a germ-line p53 mutation with an intracranial malignancy and a strong family history of cancer suggests that p53 gene mutations predispose a person to malignancy and, like retinoblastoma mutations, may be inherited.