OBJECTIVE: (1) To study seven unrelated Spanish families with multiple endocrine neoplasia type I (MEN I), describing clinical features and investigating the presence of germline mutations in the MEN1 gene, and (2) to establish reference values for pancreatic polypeptide and gastrin after a standardized test meal in a healthy control group, analyzing the usefulness of this test for detecting neuroendocrine gastroenteropancreatic tumors in subjects with MEN I. METHODS: Two or three generations of 7 kindreds with MEN I, consisting of a total of 39 individual family members, were investigated. Three of the families were subjected only to genetic analysis, and the other four families were also assessed clinically. A group of 23 healthy control subjects were also studied. RESULTS: Mutations in the MEN1 gene were found in six of the seven families studied. Of the 4 families studied clinically, 12 family members were genetically affected. In these study subjects, hyperparathyroidism, adrenal adenomas, neuroendocrine gastroenteropancreatic tumors, and pituitary adenomas developed in 100%, 50%, 16%, and 12%, respectively. All demonstrated pancreatic tumors were associated with abnormal results after a test meal, but 75% of them also showed high basal hormonal measurements. CONCLUSION: Analysis of the MEN1 gene decreases the total number of subjects who need to undergo repeated clinical and biochemical studies, but genetic mutations are not detected in all families with MEN I. Hyperparathyroidism is the most common manifestation of the syndrome, but the presence of adrenal adenomas has probably been underestimated. Ingestion of a standardized test meal for stimulation of gastrin and pancreatic polypeptide could be a complementary procedure for diagnosing gastroenteropancreatic tumors in selected patients with MEN I in whom basal gastrin and pancreatic polypeptide levels are normal.