Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk) has been identified as the protein responsible for the primary immunodeficiency X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA) and has been described as a new member of Src-related cytoplasmic protein tyrosine kinases. We have recently characterized the structure of the entire gene encoding Btk and developed a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assay to detect germline mutations within it. In this report we describe six mutations, five of which are novel, of the Btk gene in patients with XLA and demonstrate the inheritance pattern of the defect within the families of the affected individuals. The mutations found include two nonsense and two missense mutations, a single base deletion at an intron acceptor splice site, and a 16-bp insertion. A single strand conformation polymorphism was also found in the 5' end of intron 8 with the same assay. This technique has provided a powerful tool for direct analysis of the Btk gene for the diagnosis of XLA and carrier detection. The identification of new mutations may eventually reveal the role of Btk in the signaling pathways involved in B-cell development.