Autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 1 (APS1), also known as autoimmune polyendocrinopathy candidiasis ectodermal dystrophy (APECED), is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by the failure of several endocrine glands as well as nonendocrine organs. The autoimmune regulator (AIRE) gene responsible for APS1 on chromosome 21q22.3 has recently been identified. Here, we have characterized mutations in the AIRE gene by direct DNA sequencing in 16 unrelated APS1 families ascertained mainly from the USA. Our analyses identified four different mutations (a 13-bp deletion, a 2-bp insertion, one nonsense mutation, and one potential splice/donor site mutation) that are likely to be pathogenic. Fifty-six percent (9/16) of the patients contained at least one copy of a 13-bp deletion (1094-1106del) in exon 8 (seven homozygotes and two compound heterozygotes). A nonsense mutation (R257X) in exon 6 was also found in 31.3% (5/16) of the USA patients. These data are important for genetic diagnosis and counseling for families with autoimmune endocrine syndromes.