Congenital cataracts are an important cause of blindness worldwide. In a family of Chinese descent, a dominant congenital nuclear cataract locus was mapped to chromosome 17q11.1-12. The maximum LOD score, 2.49, at recombination fraction 0, was obtained for marker D17S1294. The results of both linkage and haplotype analyses defined a disease-gene to an 11.78-cM region harboring the gene coding for betaA1/A3 crystallin ( CRYBA1/A3). Mutation analysis of the CRYBA1/A3 gene identified a 3-bp deletion in exon 4, which cosegregated with the disease risk in this family and was not observed in 100 normal chromosomes. This mutation resulted in the deletion of a highly conserved glycine at codon 91 (DeltaG91) and could be associated with an incorrect folding of betaA1/A3 crystallin. It highlights the physiological importance of crystallin and supports the role of CRYBA1/A3 in human cataracts formation.