Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency is an autosomal recessive disease characterised by thymine-uraciluria in homozygous deficient patients and has been associated with a variable clinical phenotype. In order to understand the genetic and phenotypic basis for DPD deficiency, we have reviewed 17 families presenting 22 patients with complete deficiency of DPD. In this group of patients, 7 different mutations have been identified, including 2 deletions [295-298delTCAT, 1897delC], 1 splice-site mutation [IVS14+1G>A)] and 4 missense mutations (85T>C, 703C>T, 2658G>A, 2983G>T). Analysis of the prevalence of the various mutations among DPD patients has shown that the G-->A point mutation in the invariant splice donor site is by far the most common (52%), whereas the other six mutations are less frequently observed. A large phenotypic variability has been observed, with convulsive disorders, motor retardation and mental retardation being the most abundant manifestations. A clear correlation between the genotype and phenotype has not been established. An altered beta-alanine, uracil and thymine homeostasis might underlie the various clinical abnormalities encountered in patients with DPD deficiency.