The T-lineage phenotype in children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is associated with in vitro drug resistance and a higher relapse-risk compared to a precursor B phenotype. Our study was aimed to investigate whether mutations in the ATM gene occur in childhood T-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) that are linked to drug resistance and clinical outcome. In all, 20 different single nucleotide substitutions were found in 16 exons of ATM in 62/103 (60%) T-ALL children and 51/99 (52%, P = 0.21) controls. Besides the well-known polymorphism D1853N, five other alterations (S707P, F858L, P1054R, L1472W, Y1475C) in the coding part of ATM were found. These five coding alterations seem to occur more frequently in T-ALL (13%) than controls (5%, P = 0.06), but did not associate with altered expression levels of ATM or in vitro resistance to daunorubicin. However, T-ALL patients carrying these five coding alterations presented with a higher white blood cell count at diagnosis (P = 0.05) and show an increased relapse-risk (5-year probability of disease-free survival (pDFS) = 48%) compared to patients with other alterations or wild-type ATM (5-year pDFS = 76%, P = 0.05). The association between five coding ATM alterations in T-ALL, their germline presence, white blood cell count and unfavourable outcome may point to a role for ATM in the development of T-ALL in these children.