Congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 17 alpha-hydroxylase/17/20-lyase deficiency is caused by genetic defects in the gene encoding P450c17 (CYP17). To date, 18 different mutations in 27 individuals have been identified and all of them are located in the coding region of CYP17. Several mutations have been reconstructed in human P450c17 cDNA and expressed in COS cells to characterize the kinetic properties of 17 alpha-hydroxylase and 17,20-lyase activities. The molecular bases of cases clinically reported as 17 alpha-hydroxylase deficiency have turned out to result from complete or partial combined deficiencies of 17 alpha-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase. The elucidation of the molecular bases generally explains the patient's clinical profiles including the sexual phenotype of the external genitalia. In one case initially reported as isolated 17,20-lyase deficiency, the molecular basis was found to be partial combined deficiency of both activities, somewhat discordant with the patient's clinical profile. However, the patient was subsequently found to have 17 alpha-hydroxylase deficiency, suggesting involvements of age-dependent unknown factors affecting P450c17 activity.