OBJECTIVE: Both multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN 2A) and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma (FMTC) are caused by germline mutations of the RET proto-oncogene. A broad spectrum of malignancy within and between families has been described with no clear genotype-phenotype correlation due to a scarcity of available data of large kindreds. DESIGN: Here we present the only known family with a germline mutation of codon 611 TGC to TTC (exon 10) in the RET proto-oncogene leading to a replacement of cysteine by phenylalanine (Cys611Phe or C611F). RESULTS: Twenty family members of this large kindred are gene carriers (GCs) and seven (5-13 years old) are potential carriers but have yet to be analysed. The clinical course of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) in this family is characterized by a very slow evolution and progression of the tumour with no MTC-related death to date. Of 11 patients (30-69 years old) having undergone thyroidectomy six were classified as pT1, four as pT2 and one as C-cell hyperplasia according to the TNM system of the International Union Against Cancer. Due to cervical and mediastinal lymph node metastasis one patient (44 years old) had to be operated on a second time. The seven non-operated GCs of the fourth and fifth generation (17-26 years old) are yearly monitored with pentagastrin stimulation tests; one non-operated GC (43 years old) has refused any further investigations. Screening for primary hyperparathyroidism and phaeochromocytoma was negative in all cases. CONCLUSION: We suggest from these experiences that the general advice for thyroidectomy in early childhood should be modified in certain families, depending on genotype.