We have identified 14 Asian patients with homozygous beta zero thalassaemia who had a mild clinical disorder related to an augmented production of haemoglobin F. None of their parents had an elevated level of Hb F. Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the beta-globin cluster of these patients and a control group of Asian thalassaemia major patients showed that 6/14 of the thalassaemia intermedia patients were homozygous for a particular 5' beta-globin haplotype (-+-++), in contrast to 1/42 of the thalassaemia major patients. Furthermore, the -+-++ beta haplotype is also associated with amelioration of disease severity in beta thalassaemia in an Italian population. This beta haplotype is linked to a DNA sequence variation 5' (at position -158) to the G gamma globin gene which can be detected by the presence (+) of an Xmn I restriction enzyme site. The possible role of the Xmn I-gamma polymorphism in relation to this variant HPFH is discussed. We conclude that much of the observed clinical variability of beta thalassaemia can now be explained by the inheritance of beta thalassaemia chromosomes with different propensities for fetal haemoglobin production.