A mutant factor IX, designated factor IXCambridge, was isolated from a patient with hemophilia B. This protein includes an 18-residue propeptide attached to the NH2 terminus of factor IX. A point mutation at residue -1, from an arginine to a serine, precludes cleavage of the propeptide by a processing protease and interferes with gamma-carboxylation of the factor IX, indicating the importance of the leader sequence in substrate recognition by the vitamin K-dependent carboxylase. This represents an example of an enzyme defect due to the presence of a point mutation in a precursor protein (preproenzyme) that is the cause of a human hereditary disease. This defect will serve as a prototype for understanding the molecular basis of some forms of hemophilia and other hereditary enzyme deficiencies.