Heterozygous germline mutations in one of the mismatch repair (MMR) genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2 cause hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) or Lynch syndrome, a dominantly inherited cancer susceptibility syndrome. Recent reports provide evidence for a novel recessively inherited cancer syndrome with constitutive MMR deficiency due to biallelic germline mutations in one of the MMR genes. MMR-deficiency (MMR-D) syndrome is characterized by childhood brain tumors, hematological and/or gastrointestinal malignancies, and signs of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). We established an RNA-based mutation detection assay for the four MMR genes, since 1) a number of splicing defects may escape detection by the analysis of genomic DNA, and 2) DNA-based mutation detection in the PMS2 gene is severely hampered by the presence of multiple highly similar pseudogenes, including PMS2CL. Using this assay, which is based on direct cDNA sequencing of RT-PCR products, we investigated two families with children suspected to suffer from MMR-D syndrome. We identified a homozygous complex MSH6 splicing alteration in the index patients of the first family and a novel homozygous PMS2 mutation (c.182delA) in the index patient of the second family. Furthermore, we demonstrate, by the analysis of a PMS2/PMS2CL "hybrid" allele carrier, that RNA-based PMS2 testing effectively avoids the caveats of genomic DNA amplification approaches; i.e., pseudogene coamplification as well as allelic dropout, and will, thus, allow more sensitive mutation analysis in MMR deficiency and in HNPCC patients with PMS2 defects. Hum Mutat 29(2), 299-305, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.