The study was undertaken to evaluate the frequency of inherited medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) among patients with apparent sporadic disease. A stepwise algorithm was used depending on clinical indices and the age of patient at MTC diagnosis. One hundred sixteen patients with MTC verified by postoperative pathologic examination were subjected to genetic analysis of RET exons 10, 11, 13, 14, and 16 by means of polymerase chain reaction, restriction endonuclease digestion, and DNA sequencing. Among 116 apparent sporadic MTC patients, we identified eleven (9.5%) RET germline mutation carriers. Seven of these (6.0%) were found by routine analysis (exons 10 and 11). The frequency of inherited disease among patients younger than 45 years at diagnosis was 10.2% by analysis of typical mutations in exons 10 and 11. Extended genetic analysis (sequencing of exons 11, 13, 14, and 16) yielded 6.1% additional diagnoses, giving a risk of 16.3% in this age group. One previously unreported mutation in exon 11 affected codon 649 (TCG>TTG, Ser>Leu). In the true sporadic MTC patients younger than 30 years at diagnosis, frequencies of 36% and 4.5% in polymorphic variants L769L and S836S, respectively, were observed. The frequency for L769L was higher than in older patients (P <.05). The frequency of inherited disease among apparent sporadic medullary thyroid carcinoma patients is close to 10% in the Polish population of MTC patients. The extended analysis of all known RET proto-oncogene mutation sites is obligatory in patients younger than 45 years at diagnosis, but we also see the need to analyze the impact of rarer mutations in older patients.