Tuberous sclerosis (TSC) is a dominantly inherited disorder due to mutations at two gene loci, the TSC1 locus on chromosome 9q34 and the TSC2 locus on chromosome 16p13.3. The TSC2 and the TSC1 genes have now been cloned, enabling mutation analysis. We report results of mutation analysis in a sporadic case of TSC first identified in intra-uterine life on the basis of the presence of cardiac rhabdomyomas. Postnatally this infant was also found to have subependymal nodules on brain computed tomographic scan. Hypomelanotic macules were not detected neonatally or at 12 months of age. The specific TSC1 exon 15 mutation found in our patient has not previously been reported in cases of TSC. This mutation involves duplication of a 23-bp segment of DNA between two 9-bp repeated sequence elements within exon 15. These repeat elements are located between nucleotides 1892-1900 and between nucleotides 1915-1923 within the TSC1 gene sequence. It is likely that the presence of these two repeated elements predisposes to misalignment of DNA strands and unequal crossing over. The mechanism of origin of rhabdomyomas in TSC is reviewed. Loss of heterozygosity in the TSC gene regions has been reported in cardiac rhabdomyomas; however, these lesions are self-limiting in their growth. The basis for this self limiting proliferation is not clear. One interesting postulation is that cardiac rhabdomyomas may be due to delay or failure of apoptosis which occurs as part of the normal remodeling process in the heart.