Type III 3-methylglutaconic aciduria (MGA) (MIM 258501) is a neuro-ophthalmologic syndrome that consists of early-onset bilateral optic atrophy and later-onset spasticity, extrapyramidal dysfunction, and cognitive deficit. Urinary excretion of 3-methylglutaconic acid and of 3-methylglutaric acid is increased. The disorder has been reported in approximately 40 patients of Iraqi Jewish origin, allowing the mapping of the disease to chromosome 19q13.2-q13.3, by linkage analysis. To isolate the causative gene, OPA3, we sequenced four genes within the critical interval and identified, in the intronic sequence of a gene corresponding to cDNA clone FLJ22187, a point mutation that segregated with the type III MGA phenotype. The FLJ22187-cDNA clone, which we identified as the OPA3 gene, consists of two exons and encodes a peptide of 179 amino acid residues. Northern blot analysis revealed a primary transcript of approximately 5.0 kb that was ubiquitously expressed, most prominently in skeletal muscle and kidney. Within the brain, the cerebral cortex, the medulla, the cerebellum, and the frontal lobe, compared to other parts of the brain, had slightly increased expression. The intronic G-->C mutation abolished mRNA expression in fibroblasts from affected patients and was detected in 8 of 85 anonymous Israeli individuals of Iraqi Jewish origin. Milder mutations in OPA3 should be sought in patients with optic atrophy with later onset, even in the absence of additional neurological abnormalities.