Background Von Hippel-Lindau disease is an autosomal dominantly inherited highly penetrant tumor syndrome predisposing to retinal and central nervous system hemangioblastomas, renal cell carcinoma and phaeochromocytoma among other less frequent complications. Methods Molecular genetic testing of the VHL gene was performed in five unrelated families affetced with type I VHL disease, including seven patients and their available family members. Results Molecular genetic investigations detected three novel (c.163 G > T, c.232A > T and c.555C > A causing p.Glu55X, p.Asn78Tyr and p.Tyr185X protein changes, respectively) and two previously described (c.340 + 1 G > A and c.583C > T, resulting in p.Gly114AspfsX6 and p.195GlnX protein changes, respectively) germline point mutations in the VHL gene. Molecular modeling of the VHL-ElonginC-HIF-1alpha complex predicted that the p.Asn78Tyr amino acid exchange remarkably alters the 77-83 loop structure of VHL protein and destabilizes the VHL-HIF-1alpha complex suggesting that the mutation causes type I phenotype and has high risk to associate to renal cell carcinoma. The novel p.55X nonsense mutation associated to bilateral RCC and retinal angioma in a 15-year-old male patient. Conclusion We describe the earliest onset renal cell carcinoma in VHL disease reported so far in a 15-year-old boy with a nonsense VHL mutation. Individual tailoring of screening schedule based on molecular genetic status should be considered in order to diagnose serious complications as early as possible. Our observations add to the understanding of genotype-phenotype correlation in VHL disease and can be useful for genetic counseling and follow-up of VHL patients.