Hereditary multiple exostoses is an autosomal dominant disorder that is characterized by short stature and multiple, benign bone tumours. In a majority of families, the genetic defect (EXT1) is linked to the Langer-Giedion syndrome chromosomal region in 8q24.1. From this region we have cloned and characterized a cDNA which spans chromosomal breakpoints previously identified in two multiple exostoses patients. Furthermore, the gene harbours frameshift mutations in affected members of two EXT1 families. The cDNA has a coding region of 2,238 bp with no apparent homology to other known gene sequences and thus its function remains elusive. However, recent studies in sporadic and exostosis-derived chondrosarcomas suggest that the 8q24.1-encoded EXT1 gene may have tumour suppressor function.