Stickler syndrome (hereditary arthro-ophthalmopathy) is a dominantly inherited connective tissue disorder with ocular, oro-facial, auditory and skeletal manifestations. It is genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous with the majority of families having mutations in the gene encoding type II collagen (COL2A1) and exhibiting a characteristic 'membranous' or type 1 vitreous phenotype. More recently a novel mutation in the gene encoding the alpha1 chain of type XI collagen (COL11A1) was reported in a Stickler syndrome pedigree with a different 'beaded' or type 2 vitreous phenotype. In the present study five more families with the type 2 vitreous phenotype were examined for linkage to four candidate genes: COL2A1, COL5A2, COL11A1 and COL11A2. Two families were linked to COL11A1 and sequencing identified mutations resulting in shortened alphal(XI) collagen chains, one via exon skipping and the other via a multiexon deletion. One of the families showed weak linkage to COL5A2 but sequencing the open reading frame failed to identify a mutation. In the remaining two families all four loci were excluded by linkage analysis. These data confirm that mutations in COL11A1 cause Stickler syndrome with the type2 vitreous phenotype and also reveal further locus heterogeneity.