Hereditary hyperferritinemia-cataract syndrome is a genetic condition characterized by constitutively increased serum ferritin values in the absence of iron overload and by bilateral cataract. It has been demonstrated that mutations in the stem loop structure of the iron regulatory element (IRE) located in the 5'-untranslated region of the ferritin L-subunit gene (19q13.1) are responsible for the anomalous expression of this protein. Although not clearly explained, cataract formation seems secondary to the increased levels of ferritin in the lens. We analyzed a large Basque family in order to identify possible germline alterations of the iron regulatory element of the ferritin-L gene in affected individuals and first-degree relatives. All members of the family presented hyperferritinemia and cataract except a young child who had hyperferritinemia but did not present cataract. Sequence analysis permitted the identification of an A40-->G mutation in all members, including this child. This could demonstrate that cataract formation is a consequence of ferritin accumulation in the lens.