Reproductive history was obtained and the activity and electrophoretic pattern of the blood enzyme galactose-1-phosphate uridyl transferase (transferase) was measured in 104 adult Caucasian women, less than 70 years of age, sampled from the general population. Fifteen women were identified as carriers for the Duarte (GtD) or galactosemia (gt) variants of transferase--genes associated with reduced transferase activity compared with normal (Gt+). The mean age at menopause for 8 women with a natural menopause who were GtD/Gt+ or gt/Gt+ was 44.8, significantly younger (P = 0.007) than the mean age of 49.2 reported by 31 naturally postmenopausal subjects with Gt+/Gt+ genotypes and normal transferase activity. Compared with the latter group, women who were Duarte or galactosemia carriers were 13.7 times more likely to have a menopause before age 48 (with 95% confidence limits of 2.0 to 95.5). Six of 13 (46%) married women who were GtD/Gt+ or gt/Gt+ reported more than 2 years' trying to achieve a pregnancy, compared with 11 of 74 (15%) with normal genotypes and activity (P = 0.02). The authors conclude that genetic deficiency of transferase may be associated with infertility and early menopause.