Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS, OMIM 209900) is a genetic disorder with the primary features of obesity, pigmentary retinopathy, polydactyly, renal malformations, mental retardation and hypogenitalism. Individuals with BBS are also at increased risk for diabetes mellitus, hypertension and congenital heart disease. What was once thought to be a homogeneous autosomal recessive disorder is now known to map to at least six loci: 11q13 (BBS1), 16q21 (BBS2), 3p13 p12 (BBS3), 15q22.3 q23 (BBS4), 2q31 (BBS5) and 20p12 (BBS6). There has been considerable interest in identifying the genes that underlie BBS, because some components of the phenotype are common. Cases of BBS mapping ro BBS6 are caused by mutations in MKKS; mutations in this gene also cause McKusick-Kaufman syndrome (hydrometrocolpos, post-axial polydactyly and congenital heart defects). In addition, we recently used positional cloning to identify the genes underlying BBS2 (ref. 16) and BBS4 (ref. 17). The BBS6 protein has similarity to a Thermoplasma acidophilum chaperonin, whereas BBS2 and BBS4 have no significant similarity to chaperonins. It has recently been suggested that three mutated alleles (two at one locus, and a third at a second locus) may be required for manifestation of BBS (triallelic inheritance). Here we report the identification of the gene BBS1 and show that a missense mutation of this gene is a frequent cause of BBS. In addition, we provide data showing that this common mutation is not involved in triallelic inheritance.