We screened DNA from 72 sibships and 138 sporadically affected individuals with congenital non-syndromal sensorineural hearing impairment (NSSNHI) for mutations in the 26 (CX26) gene. A total of 20 (27.8%) of the sibships and 11 (7.9%) of the sporadically affected individuals were homozygous or compound heterozygotes for CX26 mutations. A total of 11 (17.2%) of 64 individuals with severe and 30 (30%) of 100 with profound NSSNHI compared to eight (8.7%) of 92 persons with moderate and none (0%) of 19 individuals with mild hearing impairment were homozygous or compound heterozygotes for CX26 mutations (chi2 test, 3 df, P = 0.000). CX26 mutation status bad no effect on the symmetry of the hearing impairment or configuration of the audiogram. In addition, serial audiograms showed no evidence of progression of the hearing impairment or differences in the severity of the hearing impairment in affected siblings in persons whether or not due to CX26 mutations. Sporadically affected individuals with congenital NSSNHI should be routinely tested for mutations in CX26, especially if the hearing impairment is severe or profound in severity, since identification of a mutation in CX26 allows use of Mendelian recurrence risks.