We carried out a genome-wide association study of serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activity in 866 Amish participants of the Heredity and Phenotype Intervention Heart Study and identified significant association of AST activity with a cluster of single nucleotide polymorphisms located on chromosome 10q24.1 (peak association was rs17109512; P=2.80E-14), in the vicinity of GOT1, the gene encoding cytosolic AST (cAST). Sequencing of GOT1 revealed an in-frame deletion of three nucleic acids encoding asparagine at position 389 c.1165_1167delAAC (p.Asn389del) in the gene. Deletion carriers had significantly lower AST activity levels compared with homozygotes for the common allele (mean±s.d.: 10.0±2.8 versus 18.8±5.2 U l(-1); P=2.80E-14). Further genotyping of the deletion in other Amish samples (n=1932) identified an additional 20 carriers (minor allele frequency (MAF)=0.0052). The deletion was not detected in 647 outbred Caucasians. Asn at codon 389 is conserved among known mammalian cASTs. In vitro transient transfection of wild-type and mutant cAST indicated that mutant cAST protein was barely detectable in the cells. Furthermore, even after correction for cAST expression, mutant cAST had markedly diminished enzymatic activity. Remarkably, we did not find any association between the deletion and metabolic traits including serum fasting glucose or insulin, fasting and post-meal lipids, inflammatory markers, or sub-clinical markers of cardiovascular disease. In conclusion, we discovered a rare in-frame deletion in GOT1 gene, which inactivates cAST enzyme in the Old Order Amish. This finding will help us to understand structure and function of the enzyme and would be useful for predicting serum AST levels.