Johanson-Blizzard syndrome (OMIM 243800) is an autosomal recessive disorder that includes congenital exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, multiple malformations such as nasal wing aplasia, and frequent mental retardation. We mapped the disease-associated locus to chromosome 15q14-21.1 and identified mutations, mostly truncating ones, in the gene UBR1 in 12 unrelated families with Johanson-Blizzard syndrome. UBR1 encodes one of at least four functionally overlapping E3 ubiquitin ligases of the N-end rule pathway, a conserved proteolytic system whose substrates include proteins with destabilizing N-terminal residues. Pancreas of individuals with Johanson-Blizzard syndrome did not express UBR1 and had intrauterine-onset destructive pancreatitis. In addition, we found that Ubr1(-/-) mice, whose previously reported phenotypes include reduced weight and behavioral abnormalities, had an exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, with impaired stimulus-secretion coupling and increased susceptibility to pancreatic injury. Our findings indicate that deficiency of UBR1 perturbs the pancreas' acinar cells and other organs, presumably owing to metabolic stabilization of specific substrates of the N-end rule pathway.