We have investigated the daughter of a woman with Kearns-Sayre syndrome. The woman had a high percentage of deleted mtDNA in muscle, but no deleted mtDNA was detected in fibroblasts, bone marrow, and peripheral blood cells by Southern blot analysis. With PCR, analytical sensitivity was significantly increased, and deleted mtDNA was detected in all examined tissues from this patient. The patient had healthy parents and nine healthy siblings. No deleted mtDNA was detected in blood from the mother of the patient. The patient had an uneventful pregnancy and delivered at term. Deleted mtDNA could not be detected in placenta by Southern blot analysis. With PCR, deleted mtDNA was detected in the majority of placental specimens. This finding may, however, be due to contamination with maternal DNA. The patient's daughter was healthy at age 5 mo, and morphologic examination of muscle was normal. No transmission of deleted mtDNA to the daughter could be detected by Southern blot and PCR analysis of peripheral blood cells, bone marrow, fibroblasts, and muscle. The presence of deleted mtDNA was excluded at a fractional level of less than 1:100,000 in all examined tissues from the daughter.