Recently, loss of heterozygosity (LOH) studies suggest that more than two tumor suppressor genes lie on the short arm of chromosome 1 (1p) in neuroblastoma (NB). To identify candidate tumor suppressor genes in NB, we searched for homozygous deletions in 20 NB cell lines using a high-density STS map spanning chromosome 1p36, a common LOH region in NB. We found that the 45-kDa subunit of the DNA fragmentation factor (DFF45) gene was homozygously deleted in an NB cell line, NB-1. DFF45 is the chaperon of DFF40, and both molecules are necessary for caspase 3 to induce apoptosis. DFF35, a splicing variant of DFF45, is an inhibitor of DFF40. We examined 20 NB cell lines for expression and mutation of DFF45 gene by reverse transcription (RT)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and RT-PCR-single-strand conformation polymorphism. Some novel variant transcripts of the DFF45 gene were found in NB cell lines, but not in normal adrenal gland and peripheral blood. These variants may not serve as chaperons of DFF40, but as inhibitors like DFF35, thus disrupting the balance between DFF45 and DFF40. No mutations of the DFF45 gene were found in any NB cell line, suggesting that the DFF45 is not a tumor suppressor gene for NB. However, homozygous deletion of the DFF45 gene in the NB-1 cell line may imply the presence of unknown tumor suppressor genes in this region.