Primary hyperoxaluria type II (PH2) is a rare disease characterized by the absence of an enzyme with glyoxylate reductase, hydroxypyruvate reductase, and D-glycerate dehydrogenase activities. The gene encoding this enzyme (GRHPR) has been characterized, and a single mutation has been detected in four PH2 patients. In this report, we have identified five novel mutations. One nonsense mutation (C295T) results in a premature stop codon at codon 99. A 4-bp deletion mutation has been found in the 5' consensus splice site of intron D, resulting in a predicted splicing error. Three missense mutations have been detected, including a missense transversion (T965G) in exon g (Met322Arg), a missense transition (G494A) in the putative co-factor binding site in exon 6 (Gly165Asp), and a substitution of an adenosine for a guanine in the 3' splice site of intron G. The functional consequences of the missense transversion and transition mutations have been investigated by transfection of cDNA encoding the mutated protein into COS cells. Cells transfected with either mutant construct have no enzymatic activity, a finding that is not significantly different from the control (empty) vector (P<0.05). These results further confirm that mutations in the GRHPR gene form the genetic basis of PH2. Ten of the 11 patients that we have genotyped are homozygous for one of the six mutations identified to date. Because of this high proportion of homozygotes, we have used microsatellite markers in close linkage with the GRHPR gene to investigate the possibility that the patients are the offspring of related individuals. Our data suggest that two thirds of our patients are the offspring of either closely or distantly related persons. Furthermore, genotyping has revealed the possible presence of a founder effect for the two most common mutations and the location of the gene near the marker D9S1874.