The inability to taste phenylthiocarbamide (PTC; "taste-blindness") has been associated with a number of medical and neurological illnesses not typically related to taste. We examined PTC sensitivity in 67 schizophrenia patients, 30 healthy controls, and 30 first-degree relatives to determine whether taster status could represent a simple vulnerability marker. A higher prevalence of non-tasters was seen in patients and family members relative to healthy controls. Among patients, non-tasters exhibited increased levels of negative and first-rank symptoms as well as poorer right nostril odor identification skills relative to PTC tasters. These differences were not explained by age, sex, education, smoking, or intensity differences. Phenotypic variation in PTC sensitivity is thought to be genetic in origin and suggests greater illness risk for those subjects with recessive taster alleles.