Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) type VIIC is a recessively inherited connective-tissue disorder, characterized by extreme skin fragility, characteristic facies, joint laxity, droopy skin, umbilical hernia, and blue sclera. Like the animal model dermatosparaxis, EDS type VIIC results from the absence of activity of procollagen I N-proteinase (pNPI), the enzyme that excises the N-propeptide of type I and type II procollagens. The pNPI enzyme is a metalloproteinase containing properdin repeats and a cysteine-rich domain with similarities to the disintegrin domain of reprolysins. We used bovine cDNA to isolate human pNPI. The human enzyme exists in two forms: a long version similar to the bovine enzyme and a short version that contains the Zn++-binding catalytic site but lacks the entire C-terminal domain in which the properdin repeats are located. We have identified the mutations that cause EDS type VIIC in the six known affected human individuals and also in one strain of dermatosparactic calf. Five of the individuals with EDS type VIIC were homozygous for a C-->T transition that results in a premature termination codon, Q225X. Four of these five patients were homozygous at three downstream polymorphic sites. The sixth patient was homozygous for a different transition that results in a premature termination codon, W795X. In the dermatosparactic calf, the mutation is a 17-bp deletion that changes the reading frame of the message. These data provide direct evidence that EDS type VIIC and dermatosparaxis result from mutations in the pNPI gene.