The aim of this study was to find the optimal set of microsatellite markers for diagnosis of the microsatellite instability (MSI) phenotype in endometrial cancers. We compared the sensitivity, specificity and ease of use of a reference panel of five markers originally recommended by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for colorectal cancer and a panel of five quasi-monomorphic mononucleotide repeat markers (pentaplex PCR system). We used these panels for establishing the MSI status of a series of 80 sporadic endometrial adenocarcinomas by comparing the allelic profiles of the markers between tumor and matching germline DNA. Both panels detected the same subset of 21 out of 80 (26%) endometrial MSI carcinomas. However, in the MSI cases, the mean instability of the five mononucleotide repeats was 96.1% as compared with a mean instability of 69.8% for the three dinucleotide repeats of the NCI panel, indicating a superiority of mononucleotide repeats over dinucleotide repeats in detecting MSI. The fact that the two panels of markers detect the same set of MSI tumors is due to the presence of two mononucleotide repeats within the NCI panel. As demonstrated previously in gastric and colon MSI cases, the pentaplex PCR reaction using mononucleotide repeats is thus an easier and more sensitive method than the NCI panel, for the screening of MSI status in endometrial tumors.