Familial dysalbuminemic hyperthyroxinemia (FDH), is the most common cause of inherited increase in serum total T4 (TT4) in the Caucasian population. It is caused by a mutation (R218H) in the human serum albumin (HSA) gene, resulting in 10-fold higher affinity for T4 and, in heterozygous affected subjects, a TT4 level 2-fold higher than that in subjects expressing the wild-type HSA only. We now report FDH in a Swiss family, caused by HSA R218P, previously reported in subjects of Japanese origin. In this form of FDH, serum TT4 levels are 14- to 20-fold the normal mean, confirmed by measurements in serum extracts. TrT3 and TT3, concentrations are 7- and 2-fold above the mean, respectively. Thus, to maintain a normal free T4 level, the calculated affinity constant (Ka) of HSA R218P should be about 16-fold higher than that of HSA R218H. Surprisingly, the Ka values measured at saturation were similar: 5.4 x 10(6) and 6.4 x 10(6) mol/L(-1) for HSA R218H, respectively. To determine how subjects with HSA R218P and R218P maintain a euthyroid state despite the markedly high serum TT4, the concentration of dialyzable T4 was measured at increasing amounts of TT4. At a TT4 level equivalent to that found in the subjects with HSA R218P, the absolute FT4 concentrations were 40, 432, and 1970 pmol/L for sera expressing HSAs R218P, R218H, and wild type, respectively. Thus, the affinity of HSA R218P for T4 must be higher than that of R218H to produce an 11-fold difference in FT4 at the same concentration ofTT4 This difference was obliterated at saturating concentrations of TT4 used for the determination of Ka values by the method of Scatchard.