In haemophilia A, the functional defect at the molecular level of most factor VIII (FVIII) missense mutations remains unknown. Site-directed mutagenesis of B domain-deleted FVIII cDNA (FVIIISQ) was used to introduce two mutations associated with severe cross-reacting material (CRM)-negative (FVIII-C329S) or mild/moderate CRM-reduced (FVIII-G1948D) haemophilia A. Wild-type (FVIIISQ-WT) and variant FVIIISQ proteins were successfully expressed after stable transfection in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, and partially characterized at the intracellular, molecular and functional levels. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis confirmed that both transcription and mRNA processing appeared normal in CHO cells transfected with both the wild-type and two variant constructs. In contrast to FVIIISQ-WT, immunofluorescence analysis of both CRM(-) and CRM(r) variants showed intracellular FVIII accumulation within the rough endoplasmic reticulum, suggesting secretion defects in transfected CHO cells. Immunoblot analysis of the FVIIISQ variant proteins that were secreted showed that they were expressed as mixed populations of uncleaved 170 kDa polypeptides, processed 90 kDa heavy chains and 80 kDa light chains, similar to FVIIISQ-WT. Phenotypic analysis of the B domain-deleted FVIIISQ variants expressed in CHO cells correlated well with the patients' reduced FVIII activity and, in addition, surface plasmon resonance studies demonstrated that both missense mutations were associated with increased rates of A2 domain dissociation following thrombin activation. We conclude that the mutations found are responsible for the haemophilia A phenotype, through intracellular retention and decreased stability of the active cofactor FVIIIa.