Glycine encephalopathy (GE) (non-ketotic hyperglycinemia) is an autosomal recessive neurometabolic disease caused by defective activity of the glycine cleavage system. Clinically, patients present usually in the neonatal period with hypotonia, encephalopathy, hiccups and breath arrests with or without overt seizures. GE is considered rare, but its incidence is relatively high in several geographical areas around the world. We report a novel mutation causing GE in six extended Arab families, all from a small suburban village (population 5,000). A methionine to threonine change in the initiation codon of the glycine decarboxylase gene led to markedly reduced glycine decarboxylase mRNA levels and abolished glycine cleavage system activity.