Splice site mutations in the COL1A2 gene of type I collagen can give rise to forms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) because of partial or complete skipping of exon 6, as well as to mild, moderate, or lethal forms of osteogenesis imperfecta as a consequence of skipping of other exons. We identified three unrelated individuals with a rare recessively inherited form of EDS (characterized by joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility, and cardiac valvular defects); in two of them, COL1A2 messenger RNA (mRNA) instability results from compound heterozygosity for splice site mutations in the COL1A2 gene, and, in the third, it results from homozygosity for a nonsense codon. The splice site mutations led to use of cryptic splice donor sites, creation of a downstream premature termination codon, and extremely unstable mRNA. In the wild-type allele, the two introns (IVS11 and IVS24) in which these mutations occurred were usually spliced slowly in relation to their respective immediate upstream introns. In the mutant alleles, the upstream intron was removed, so that exon skipping could not occur. In the context of the mutation in IVS24, computer-generated folding of a short stretch of mRNA surrounding the mutation site demonstrated realignment of the relationships between the donor and acceptor sites that could facilitate use of a cryptic donor site. These findings suggest that the order of intron removal is an important variable in prediction of mutation outcome at splice sites and that folding of the nascent mRNA could be one element that contributes to determination of order of splicing. The complete absence of pro alpha 2(I) chains has the surprising effect of producing cardiac valvular disease without bone involvement.