Hereditary coproporphyria (HCP) is the least common of the three autosomal dominant acute porphyrias. To compare the sensitivity of metabolite measurements for the identification of asymptomatic HCP, we carried out a molecular and biochemical investigation of a large family in which HCP is caused by a previously unreported frameshift mutation (c.119delA). Thirteen of 19 asymptomatic family members, aged 10-72 years, were shown by mutational analysis to have HCP. The faecal coproporphyrin isomer III:I ratio was increased in all of these 13 family members; faecal total porphyrin concentration and urinary porphyrin excretion were increased in 11 and 8 of them, respectively. Plasma porphyrin concentrations were marginally increased in three individuals and plasma fluorescence emission scanning showed a porphyrin peak at 618 nm in two of these. Our results add to the evidence that an increased faecal porphyrin coproporphyrin III:I ratio is a highly sensitive test for the detection of clinically latent HCP in individuals over the age of 10 years; its sensitivity below this age remains uncertain. They also show that plasma fluorescence emission scanning is not useful for the investigation of families with HCP.