Through whole-genome sequencing of 2,230 Icelanders, we detected a rare nonsynonymous SNP (minor allele frequency = 0.55%) in the C3 gene encoding a p.Lys155Gln substitution in complement factor 3, which, following imputation into a set of Icelandic cases with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and controls, associated with disease (odds ratio (OR) = 3.45; P = 1.1 × 10(-7)). This signal is independent of the previously reported common SNPs in C3 encoding p.Pro314Leu and p.Arg102Gly that associate with AMD. The association of p.Lys155Gln was replicated in AMD case-control samples of European ancestry with OR = 4.22 and P = 1.6 × 10(-10), resulting in OR = 3.65 and P = 8.8 × 10(-16) for all studies combined. In vitro studies have suggested that the p.Lys155Gln substitution reduces C3b binding to complement factor H, potentially creating resistance to inhibition by this factor. This resistance to inhibition in turn is predicted to result in enhanced complement activation.