In the process of screening apolipoprotein (apo) E genotypes in a population of subjects with lipid abnormalities, we have identified five subjects (one homozygote and four heterozygotes) with an abnormal 109 base pairs band following apo E restriction isotyping of amplified DNA with the restriction endonuclease CfoI. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products were cloned and their sequencing revealed a C→A substitution at the first nucleotide of codon 136. This mutation resulted in an amino acid substitution Arg to Ser, previously described as apo E2 Christchurch. Family studies were carried out for four of the probands. In these kindreds, stepwise multiple regression analyses indicated that 78% of the cholesterol variability in men was predicted by body mass index, age and the rare apo E2 (Arg136→Ser) variant. In women, age and the apo E2 (Arg136→Ser) variant predicted 54.9% of the variability in cholesterol levels. Linkage analysis suggested that the presence of the apo E2 (Arg136→Ser) variant was linked with the occurrence of cholesterol enriched triglyceride rich lipoproteins and with an incomplete dominance of type III hyperlipoproteinemia. Our data indicates that this mutation may be a relatively common cause of dyslipidemia in the Spanish population.