Identical single-base changes in the C1 inhibitor gene that may result in dysfunctional inhibitor proteins are described in two different families with type II hereditary angioneurotic edema. Initially, a restriction fragment length polymorphism was defined that resulted from loss of a Pst I site within exon VIII, which encodes the region containing the reactive center. Exon VIII from the normal and abnormal allelles was amplified by the polymerase chain reaction. Amplified DNA product was cloned into plasmid pUC18; clones representing normal and mutant allelles were distinguished by the presence and absence, respectively, of the Pst I restriction site. DNA sequence analysis revealed a G----A mutation in the codon for alanine-436, which would result in replacement with a threonine residue. This position is nine amino acid residues amino-terminal to the reactive-center arginylthreonine peptide bond. In contrast, previously defined mutations in type II hereditary angioneurotic edema result in replacement of the reactive-center arginine.