The study of the neurobehavioral consequences of mutations of FMR1, the gene responsible for fragile X syndrome (FraX), has been based largely on correlations between mutation patterns and cognitive profile. Following the characterization of FMRP, the FMR1 gene product, preliminary correlations between FMRP levels, and neurologic phenotype have been established. However, most of these investigations have focused on individuals at both ends of the genetic and cognitive spectra of FraX, subjects with normal or premutation (PM) alleles or males with the FMR1 full mutation (FM). The present study is designed to characterize FMRP expression and to correlate it with IQ, in a sample representing a wide spectrum of FMR1 mutations. For this purpose we developed a highly sensitive immunoblotting assay using peripheral leukocytes. Three distinct patterns of FMRP immunoreactivity (-ir) emerged. Individuals with normal (n = 28) and PM (n = 8) alleles as well as most females with the FM (n = 14) showed the highest levels with multiple approximately 70-80 kDa FMRP-ir bands. Males with the FM (n = 10) demonstrated only a 70 kDa FMRP-ir band, and had significantly lower levels when compared with any previous groups. Males with mosaicism and three of 14 females with FM displayed a doublet with equal amounts of the highest and lowest molecular weight FMRP-ir bands. Multiple regression models that adjust for the effect of parental IQ indicated that both activation ratio and FMRP-ir are significantly correlated to subject IQ. We conclude that FMRP-ir offers promise as an indicator of the impact of FMR1 mutations upon neurologic function. Furthermore, our unexpected finding of FMRP-ir in all males with FM suggests that most of them are not transcriptionally silent.