Niemann-Pick C (NPC) disease is an autosomal recessive neurovisceral lysosomal storage disorder that results in defective intracellular transport of cholesterol. The major form of human NPC (NPC1) has been mapped to chromosome 18, the NPC1 gene (NPC1) has been sequenced and several mutations have been identified in NPC1 patients. A feline model of NPC has been characterized and is phenotypically, morphologically, and biochemically similar to human NPC1. Complementation studies using cultured fibroblasts from NPC affected cats and NPC1 affected humans support that the gene responsible for the NPC phenotype in this colony of cats is orthologous to human NPC1. Using human-based PCR primers, initial fragments of the feline NPC cDNA were amplified and sequenced. From these sequences, feline-specific PCR primers were generated and designed to amplify six overlapping bands that span the entire feline NPC1 open reading frame. A single base substitution (2864G-C) was identified in NPC1 affected cats. Obligate carriers are heterozygous at the same allele and a PCR-based assay was developed to identify the geneotype of all cats in the colony. The mutation results in an amino acid change from cysteine to serine (C955S). Several of the mutations identified in people occur in the same region. Marked similarity exists between the human and feline NPC1 cDNA sequences, and is greater than that between the human and murine NPC1 sequences. The human cDNA sequence predicts a 1278aa protein with a lysosomal targeting sequence, several trans-membrane domains and extensive homology with other known mediators of cholesterol homeostasis.