Genetic changes in the SMARCB1 tumor suppressor gene have recently been reported in tumors and blood from families with schwannomatosis. Exon scanning of all nine SMARCB1 exons in genomic DNA from our cohort of families meeting the criteria for ‘definite’ or ‘presumptive’ schwannomatosis previously revealed constitutional alterations in 13 of 19 families (68%). Screening of four new familial schwannomatosis probands identified one additional constitutional alteration. We confirmed the presence of mRNA transcripts for two missense alterations, four mutations of conserved splice motifs and two additional mutations, in less conserved sequences, which also affect splicing. Furthermore, we found that transcripts for a rare 3′-untranslated region (c.*82C > T) alteration shared by four unrelated families did not produce splice variants but did show unequal allelic expression, suggesting that the alteration is either causative itself or linked to an unidentified causative mutation. Overexpression studies in cells lacking SMARCB1 suggest that mutant SMARCB1 proteins, like wild-type SMARCB1 protein, retain the ability to suppress cyclin D1 activity. These data, together with the expression of SMARCB1 protein in a proportion of cells from schwannomatosis-related schwannomas, suggest that these tumors develop through a mechanism that is distinct from that of rhabdoid tumors in which SMARCB1 protein is completely absent in tumor cells.