We have investigated the correlation between genotype and phenotype in a large number of patients with glutaric aciduria type I (GA I). The deficiency of glutaryl-CoA dehydrogenase has been confirmed in the Rigshospitalet's laboratory in 215 patients since 1975. Most of the patients were of European ancestry. Complete absence of enzyme activity was found in more than half of the patients, while 34% of patients had a residual activity up to 5% and a few patients had a residual activity of 5-15%. In four exceptional cases, a very high residual activity of up to 30% was found. Enzyme studies are thus a reliable method for confirming the diagnosis of GA I, although it may be difficult to distinguish exceptional 'mild' cases from heterozygous carriers for GA I. Three of the patients with very high residual activity are compound heterozygous for the missense mutations R227P and V400M, both of which are associated with residual enzyme activity of 8-10% in homozygous patients. Patients with a mild mutation on at least one chromosome frequently show unusual biochemical findings such as low or normal urinary excretion of glutaric acid and mild or only slightly increased excretion of 3-hydroxyglutaric acid. In contrast, patients with severe mutations such as R402W or A293T on both alleles have no residual activity and show the typical urinary metabolite pattern. Clinical data were available for a subgroup of 79 patients. No correlation with the biochemical phenotype or the genotype could be established.