A rare case of familial lipoprotein lipase (LPL) deficiency in a Chinese newborn who presented with severe hyperbilirubinaemia is described. The falsely high serum bilirubin concentration was subsequently found to be a laboratory analytical error caused by interference of optical measurement of the lipaemic serum. Hypertriglyceridaemia and chylomicronaemia could be safely and effectively controlled by a fat-restricted diet using either modified elementary milk formula fortified with protein, calories and minerals, or the commercially available special milk formula such as Monogen or Portagen. DNA sequence analysis of the patient showed a Leu252Arg mutation in exon 6 of both alleles of the LPL gene. Although the parents were unrelated, both were heterozygous carriers of the same genetic defect. Codon 252 in exon 6 appears to be a common and critical site of mutation in the LPL gene of Chinese, but this important association has not been recognized previously.