Iron overload may predominantly involve parenchymal or reticuloendothelial cells, the prototype of parenchymal iron overload being HFE-related genetic haemochromatosis. We studied a family with autosomal dominant hyperferritinaemia in whom the proband showed selective iron accumulation in the Kupffer cells on liver biopsy. Analysis of L and H ferritin genes excluded mutations responsible for hereditary hyperferritinaemia/cataract syndrome or similar translational disorders. Sequence analysis of the ferroportin gene (SLC11A3) in four individuals with hyperferritinaemia singled out a three base pair deletion in a region that contains four TTG repeats. This mutation removes a TTG unit from 780 to 791, and predicts the loss of one of three sequential valine residues 160-162. Denaturing high performance liquid chromatography can be used for its detection. SLC11A3 polymorphism analysis indicates that this probably represents a recurrent mutation due to slippage mispairing. Affected individuals may show marginally low serum iron and transferrin saturation, and young women may have marginally low haemoglobin concentration levels. Serum ferritin levels are directly related to age, but are 10-20 times higher than normal. Heterozygosity for the ferroportin Val 162 deletion represents the prototype of selective reticuloendothelial iron overload, and should be taken into account in the differential diagnosis of hereditary or congenital hyperferritinaemias.