We investigated the molecular basis of ferrochelatase in a Japanese patient with erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP), complicated by fatal liver failure, and defined a novel point mutation in the ferrochelatase gene. cDNAs were synthesized using Epstein-Barr-virus-transformed lymphoblastoid cells from the proband. cDNA clones encoding ferrochelatase in the proband were isolated by amplification using the polymerase chain reaction. There were two sizes of ferrochelatase cDNAs; one was normal in size, the other being smaller. Sequence analysis of the abnormally sized cDNA clones revealed that they lacked exon 9 of the ferrochelatase gene. Genomic DNA analysis demonstrated that the proband had the abnormal allele and that it contained a G to A point mutation at the first position of the donor site of intron 9. An identical mutation was detected in the affected family members of the proband by allele-specific oligonucleotide hybridization analysis. EPP is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner in this family.