Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive disease characterized by progressive muscle weakness. It is caused by a mutation in the survival motor neuron gene 1 (SMN1) gene. SMA with respiratory distress 1 (SMARD1), an uncommon variant of infantile SMA also inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, is caused by mutations in the immunoglobulin mu-binding protein 2 (IGHMBP2) gene. We carried out genetic carrier screening among the residents of an isolated Israeli Arab village with a high frequency of SMA in order to identify carriers of SMA type I and SMARD1. During 2006, 168 women were tested for SMA, of whom 13.1% were found to be carriers. Of 111 women tested for SMARD1, 9.9% were found to be carriers. Prenatal diagnosis was performed in one couple where both spouses were carriers of SMARD1; the fetus was found to be affected, and the pregnancy was terminated. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first example of the establishment of a large-scale carrier-screening program for SMA and SMARD1 in an isolated population. SMA has a carrier frequency of 1:33-1:60 in most populations and should be considered for inclusion in a population-based genetic-screening program.