To establish the contribution of TP53 germline mutations to familial breast/ovarian cancer in Germany we screened the complete coding region of the TP53 gene in a series of German breast/ovarian cancer families negative for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.Two different intronic TP53 sequence variants were identified in 6/48 (12.5%) breast/ovarian cancer families. A novel A to T nucleotide change at position 17708 in intron 10 segregating with the disease was detected in three breast cancer families (6.2%). One 17708 A>T-associated breast tumour showed loss of the wild-type allele. This variant was also found in 5/112 (4.5%) healthy controls indicating that it is a polymorphism. A second sequence variant changing a G to C at position 13964 in intron 6 not segregating with the disease was found in two breast cancer families and one breast-ovarian cancer family (6.2%). This variant has previously been shown to occur at an elevated frequency in hereditary breast cancer patients from North America and to be of functional importance leading to inhibition of apoptosis and prolongation of cell survival after DNA-damage. Screening of 185 consecutive unselected German breast cancer patients revealed the 13964 G>C variant in four patients (2.2%). Immunohistochemical analysis of the TP53 protein showed negative immunoreactivity in normal and tumour tissues of one 17708 A>T and six 13964 G>C carriers. TP53 overexpression was detected in the tumour tissue of one sporadic breast cancer patient carrying the 13964 G>C variant. Our results show that intronic changes of the TP53 gene may act as or be associated with risk modifiers in familial breast cancer.