Haplotype analysis of the low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) gene was performed in Norwegian subjects heterozygous for familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). Southern blot analysis of genomic DNA, using an exon 18 specific probe and the restriction enzyme NcoI, showed that two out of 57 unrelated FH subjects had an abnormal 3.6 kb band. Further analyses revealed that this abnormal band was due to a 9.6 kb deletion that included exons 16 and 17. The 5' deletion breakpoint was after 245 bp of intron 15, and the 3' deletion breakpoint was in exon 18 after nucleotide 3390 of cDNA. Thus, both the membrane-spanning and cytoplasmatic domains of the receptor had been deleted. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method was developed to identify this deletion among other Norwegian FH subjects. As a result of this screening one additional subject was found out of 124 subjects screened. Thus, three out of 181 (1.7%) unrelated Norwegian FH subject possessed this deletion. The deletion was found on the same haplotype in the three unrelated subjects, suggesting a common mutagenic event. The deletion is identical to a deletion (FH-Helsinki) that is very common among Finnish FH subjects. However, it is not yet known whether the mutations evolved separately in the two countries.