Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 1D (LGMD1D) was linked to chromosome 7q36 over a decade ago, but its genetic cause has remained elusive. Here we studied nine LGMD-affected families from Finland, the United States and Italy and identified four dominant missense mutations leading to p.Phe93Leu or p.Phe89Ile changes in the ubiquitously expressed co-chaperone DNAJB6. Functional testing in vivo showed that the mutations have a dominant toxic effect mediated specifically by the cytoplasmic isoform of DNAJB6. In vitro studies demonstrated that the mutations increase the half-life of DNAJB6, extending this effect to the wild-type protein, and reduce its protective anti-aggregation effect. Further, we show that DNAJB6 interacts with members of the CASA complex, including the myofibrillar myopathy-causing protein BAG3. Our data identify the genetic cause of LGMD1D, suggest that its pathogenesis is mediated by defective chaperone function and highlight how mutations in a ubiquitously expressed gene can exert effects in a tissue-, isoform- and cellular compartment-specific manner.