In the first phase of the Northern Ireland PKU Study, we used automated sequencing to identify the spectrum of mutations in a random group of 32 unrelated phenylketonuria (PKU) families. We also investigated 7 Northern Irish patients with mild hyperphenylalaninaemia not requiring dietary intervention (MHP, previously referred to as non-PKU HPA). Disease-causing mutations were identified on all 78 investigated chromosomes. We found 23 different mutations, including 20 missense, 1 nonsense and 2 splice site mutations. All mutations were located within exons or at intron-exon boundaries of the phenylalanine hydroxylase gene. Seven mutations occurred at CpG sites, confirming these sites as mutation hot-spots in PKU. Mutations R408W and I65T are the two commonest PKU mutations in the Northern Irish population. Two mutations (T380M and V245A) can be characterized as MHP mutations; they are quasi dominant markers for MHP since they cause mild hyperphenylalaninaemia even when occurring in conjunction with the most severe PKU mutations. The results have proven valuable for the development of a routine PKU mutation analysis system in Northern Ireland.