The genetic heterogeneity at the phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) locus was studied in 88 families including 93 of the 105 children with phenylketonuria (PKU) or hyperphenylalaninemia (HPA) detected through the Swedish neonatal screening program from 1966 to the end of 1986. Haplotypes based on eight restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) at the PAH locus could be constructed for 132 normal and 136 mutant alleles. The normal alleles were of 27 different RFLP haplotypes, 9 of which have not been described previously, but there was a dominance of a few haplotypes common to many European populations. The distribution of mutant alleles was significantly different from that in neighboring countries, even though over 90% of all mutant alleles were confined to six RFLP haplotypes, also prevalent in other European populations. Allele-specific oligonucleotide hybridization analysis for the Arg408 to Trp408 mutation and for the G to A splicing mutation in intron 12 showed exceptions to the previously reported linkage of these mutations to mutant haplotypes 2 and 3, respectively. Correlation of mutant alleles with clinical phenotypes pointed to the presence of at least two different mutations associated with each of six haplotypes. We argue that PKU/HPA in the Swedish population may be caused by at least 13 different mutations in addition to the 4 already identified. The theoretical informativity of RFLP analysis in heterozygote detection and prenatal diagnosis in PKU/HPA families was estimated at approximately 85%. Carrier detection could, in effect, be accomplished for 88% of the 56 healthy siblings in the families studied.