Genetic screening of the beta-myosin heavy chain gene (MYH7) was evaluated in 100 consecutive unrelated patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and 200 normal unrelated subjects. Seventeen beta-myosin mutations were identified in 19 patients. Notably, 13, or 76%, were novel. Mutations were detected in both alleles in two patients: homozygous for Lys207Gln in one, and heterozygous for Pro211 Leu and Arg663His in another. No mutation was detected in the controls. MYH7-associated HCM was associated with more marked left atrial enlargement and syncope than non-MYH7-related HCM. Our findings indicate that: (1) screening methods should allow identification of novel mutations; and (2) more than one sarcomeric mutation may be present in a patient more commonly than is appreciated. Further studies are necessary to ascertain the clinical consequences of the novel and compound gene abnormalities, and to determine whether correlating functional domain to phenotype provides more useful information about the clinical significance of the molecular defects.