Aspartylglycosaminuria is an inherited lysosomal storage disease caused by deficiency of glycoasparaginase (EC 126.96.36.199) and occurs with higher frequency among Finns than other populations. We have purified human glycoasparaginase and determined about 90% of the amino acid sequence of its light subunit and greater than 70% of that of its heavy subunit by Edman degradation and mass spectrometry. Additional sequence data were obtained from the cloning and subsequent nucleotide analysis of a cDNA corresponding to the normal human glycoasparaginase gene. The enzyme is encoded by a single mRNA as a single polypeptide that is posttranslationally processed to generate the subunits and is glycosylated. After preparing first-strand cDNA from leukocyte and fibroblast total RNA, we used the polymerase chain reaction to amplify the glycoasparaginase cDNA of eight Finnish aspartylglycosaminuria patients. We demonstrate that the Finnish patients' mRNA sequence differed from the normal sequence by two single-base changes six nucleotides apart from one another in the heavy chain of glycoasparaginase. The first change resulted in the replacement of arginine by glutamine (R161Q), whereas the second change resulted in a cysteine to serine substitution (C163S). Both mutations resulted in novel restriction endonuclease sites and were present in all eight Finnish aspartylglycosaminuria patients originating from different pedigrees, but they were absent from Finnish and non-Finnish controls and a non-Finnish case of aspartylglycosaminuria. These results indicate molecular homogeneity in aspartylglycosaminuria alleles in the Finnish population.