The triad of a presacral tumour, sacral agenesis and anorectal malformation constitutes the Currarino syndrome which is caused by dorsal-ventral patterning defects during embryonic development. The syndrome occurs in the majority of patients as an autosomal dominant trait associated with mutations in the homeobox gene HLXB9 which encodes the nuclear protein HB9. However, genotype-phenotype analyses have been performed only in a few families and there are no reports about the specific impact of HLXB9 mutations on HB9 function. We performed a mutational analysis in 72 individuals from nine families with Currarino syndrome. We identified a total of five HLXB9 mutations, four novel and one known mutation, in four out of four families and one out of five sporadic cases. Highly variable phenotypes and a low penetrance with half of all carriers being clinically asymptomatic were found in three families, whereas affected members of one family showed almost identical phenotypes. However, an obvious genotype-phenotype correlation was not found. While HLXB9 mutations were diagnosed in 23 patients, no mutation or microdeletion was detected in four sporadic patients with Currarino syndrome. The distribution pattern of here and previously reported HLXB9 mutations indicates mutational predilection sites within exon 1 and the homeobox. Furthermore, sequence homology to Drosophila homeobox genes suggest that some of these mutations located within the homeobox may alter the DNA-binding specificity of HB9 while those in sequences homologous to a recently identified NLS motif of the human homeobox gene PDX-1 may impair nuclear translocation of the mutated protein.