Hereditary spherocytosis (HS) is one of the most common hereditary haemolytic anaemias. HS red cells from both autosound dominant and recessive variants are spectrin-deficient, which correlates with the severity of the disease. Some patients with recessive HS have a mutation in the spectrin alpha-2 domain (S.L.M. et al., unpublished observations), and a few dominant HS patients have an unstable beta-spectrin that is easily oxidized, which damages the protein 4.1 binding site and weakens spectrin-actin interactions. In most patients, however, the cause of spectrin deficiency is unknown. The alpha- and beta-spectrin loci are on chromosomes 1 and 14 respectively. The only other genetic locus for HS is SPH2, on the short arm of chromosome 8 (8p11). This does not correspond to any of the known loci of genes for red cell membrane proteins including protein 4.1 (1p36.2-p34), the anion exchange protein (AE1, band 3; 17q21-qter), glycophorin C (2q14-q21), and beta-actin (7pter-q22). Human erythrocyte ankyrin, which links beta-spectrin to the anion exchange protein, has recently been cloned. We now show that the ankyrin gene maps to chromosome 8p11.2, and that one copy is missing from DNA of two unrelated children with severe HS and heterozygous deletions of chromosome 8 (del(8)(p11-p21.1)). Affected red cells are also ankyrin-deficient. The data suggest that defects or deficiency or ankyrin are responsible for HS at the SPH2 locus.