Defects in iron absorption and utilization lead to iron deficiency and anemia. While iron transport by transferrin receptor-mediated endocytosis is well understood, it is not completely clear how iron is transported from the endosome to the mitochondria where heme is synthesized. We undertook a positional cloning project to identify the causative mutation for the hemoglobin-deficit (hbd) mouse mutant, which suffers from a microcytic, hypochromic anemia apparently due to defective iron transport in the endocytosis cycle. As shown by previous studies, reticulocyte iron accumulation in homozygous hbd/hbd mice is deficient despite normal binding of transferrin to its receptor and normal transferrin uptake in the cell. We have identified a strong candidate gene for hbd, Sec15l1, a homologue to yeast SEC15, which encodes a key protein in vesicle docking. The hbd mice have an exon deletion in Sec15l1, which is the first known mutation of a SEC gene homologue in mammals.