Hereditary atransferrinemia is a rare but instructive disorder that has previously been reported in only 8 patients in 6 families. It is characterized by microcytic anemia and by iron loading, and can be treated effectively by plasma infusions. We now report the first case known in the United States. We determined the sequences flanking the exons of the human transferrin gene and sequenced all of the exons and some of the flanking regions of the patient's DNA and that of her parents. The patient's DNA revealed a 10-base pair (bp) deletion, followed by a 9-bp insertion of a duplicated sequence. There was also a G-->C transversion at complementary DNA (cDNA) nt 1429, predicting that a proline was substituted for the alanine in amino acid position 477 (Ala 477 Pro). The latter mutation occurs at an evolutionarily highly conserved site; 704 control alleles were screened and this point mutation was not found. Each of the patient's transferrin genes contains one mutation, ie, the patient is a compound heterozygote for these mutations, because one was found in each of her parents. In addition to these mutations, which we regard to be causative in the patient's atransferrinemia, a silent polymorphism at cDNA 1572 G-->C was found in exon 13 as well as 2 previously unreported polymorphisms at IVS8 + 62 c-->t and IVS14-4 c-->a. The mutation in nt 1572 and that in intron 8 were common in the general population; the intron 14 mutation is rare.