Autosomal dominant optic atrophy is one of the most common inherited optic neuropathies. This disease is genetically heterogeneous, but most cases are due to pathogenic variants in the OPA1 gene: depending on the population studied, 32-90% of cases harbor pathogenic variants in this gene. The aim of this study was to provide a comprehensive overview of the entire spectrum of likely pathogenic variants in the OPA1 gene in a large cohort of patients. Over a period of 20 years, 755 unrelated probands with a diagnosis of bilateral optic atrophy were referred to our laboratory for molecular genetic investigation. Genetic testing of the OPA1 gene was initially performed by a combined analysis using either single-strand conformation polymorphism or denaturing high performance liquid chromatography followed by Sanger sequencing to validate aberrant bands or melting profiles. The presence of copy number variations was assessed using multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification. Since 2012, genetic testing was based on next-generation sequencing platforms. Genetic screening of the OPA1 gene revealed putatively pathogenic variants in 278 unrelated probands which represent 36.8% of the entire cohort. A total of 156 unique variants were identified, 78% of which can be considered null alleles. Variant c.2708_2711del/p.(V903Gfs*3) was found to constitute 14% of all disease-causing alleles. Special emphasis was placed on the validation of splice variants either by analyzing cDNA derived from patients´ blood samples or by heterologous splice assays using minigenes. Splicing analysis revealed different aberrant splicing events, including exon skipping, activation of exonic or intronic cryptic splice sites, and the inclusion of pseudoexons. Forty-eight variants that we identified were novel. Nine of them were classified as pathogenic, 34 as likely pathogenic and five as variant of uncertain significance. Our study adds a significant number of novel variants to the mutation spectrum of the OPA1 gene and will thereby facilitate genetic diagnostics of patients with suspected dominant optic atrophy.