The gene for mouse myelin basic protein (MBP) was mapped to chromosome 18 by hybridization of cloned MBP probes to DNA from hamster-mouse hybrid cell lines, showing it to be linked to the shiverer mutation which causes abnormal CNS myelination. Genomic blotting experiments show that in the mutants five of six exons which constitute the wild-type gene have been deleted. In shiverer brains the steady state level of transcripts that initiate correctly at the 5' end of the remaining exon 1 is reduced 16-fold. These RNAs are not spliced correctly and are not efficiently polyadenylated. It is proposed that the partial deletion of the MBP gene is an important part of the shiverer lesion.