Linkage analysis in a multigenerational family with autosomal dominant hearing loss yielded a chromosomal localisation of the underlying genetic defect in the DFNA20/26 locus at 17q25-qter. The 6-cM critical region harboured the gamma-1-actin (ACTG1) gene, which was considered an attractive candidate gene because actins are important structural elements of the inner ear hair cells. In this study, a Thr278Ile mutation was identified in helix 9 of the modelled protein structure. The alteration of residue Thr278 is predicted to have a small but significant effect on the gamma 1 actin structure owing to its close proximity to a methionine residue at position 313 in helix 11. Met313 has no space in the structure to move away. Moreover, the Thr278 residue is highly conserved throughout eukaryotic evolution. Using a known actin structure the mutation could be predicted to impair actin polymerisation. These findings strongly suggest that the Thr278Ile mutation in ACTG1 represents the first disease causing germline mutation in a cytoplasmic actin isoform.