Muscle-specific deficiency of phosphorylase kinase (Phk) causes glycogen storage disease, clinically manifesting in exercise intolerance with early fatiguability, pain, cramps and occasionally myoglobinuria. In two patients and in a mouse mutant with muscle Phk deficiency, mutations were previously found in the muscle isoform of the Phk alpha subunit, encoded by the X-chromosomal PHKA1 gene (MIM # 311870). No mutations have been identified in the muscle isoform of the Phk gamma subunit (PHKG1). In the present study, we determined Q1the structure of the PHKG1 gene and characterized its relationship to several pseudogenes. In six patients with adult- or juvenile-onset muscle glycogenosis and low Phk activity, we then searched for mutations in eight candidate genes. The coding sequences of all six genes that contribute to Phk in muscle were analysed: PHKA1, PHKB, PHKG1, CALM1, CALM2 and CALM3. We also analysed the genes of the muscle isoform of glycogen phosphorylase (PYGM), of a muscle-specific regulatory subunit of the AMP-dependent protein kinase (PRKAG3), and the promoter regions of PHKA1, PHKB and PHKG1. Only in one male patient did we find a PHKA1 missense mutation (D299V) that explains the enzyme deficiency. Two patients were heterozygous for single amino-acid replacements in PHKB that are of unclear significance (Q657K and Y770C). No sequence abnormalities were found in the other three patients. If these results can be generalized, only a fraction of cases with muscle glycogenosis and a biochemical diagnosis of low Phk activity are caused by coding, splice-site or promoter mutations in PHKA1, PHKG1 or other Phk subunit genes. Most patients with this diagnosis probably are affected either by elusive mutations of Phk subunit genes or by defects in other, unidentified genes.