Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) type IV is an autosomal dominant connective tissue disorder. Early morbidity and mortality results from rupture of vessels and internal organs. A large kindred with EDS type IV was studied clinically, and the biochemical defects and underlying mutation in the COL3A1 gene that encodes the chains of type III procollagen were identified. A G-->A transition results in a single amino acid substitution, G571S, in the triple helical domain of the products of one COL3A1 allele. Although the clinical findings seen on examination are characteristic of EDS type IV, longevity is longer than that seen in many families and there is less pregnancy-associated morbidity or mortality than in some families. This suggests that some clinical aspects of EDS type IV may be related to the nature of the mutation and its effect on the behavior of the protein.