Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) and Cockayne syndrome (CS) are two rare inherited disorders with a clinical and cellular hypersensitivity to the UV component of the sunlight spectrum. Although the two traits are generally considered as clinically and genetically distinct entities, on the biochemical level a defect in the nucleotide excision-repair (NER) pathway is involved in both. Classical CS patients are primarily deficient in the preferential repair of DNA damage in actively transcribed genes, whereas in most XP patients the genetic defect affects both "preferential" and "overall" NER modalities. Here we report a genetic study of two unrelated, severely affected patients with the clinical characteristics of CS but with a biochemical defect typical of XP. By complementation analysis, using somatic cell fusion and nuclear microinjection of cloned repair genes, we assign these two patients to XP complementation group G, which previously was not associated with CS. This observation extends the earlier identification of two patients with a rare combined XP/CS phenotype within XP complementation groups B and D, respectively. It indicates that some mutations in at least three of the seven genes known to be involved in XP also can result in a picture of partial or even full-blown CS. We conclude that the syndromes XP and CS are biochemically closely related and may be part of a broader clinical disease spectrum. We suggest, as a possible molecular mechanism underlying this relation, that the XPGC repair gene has an additional vital function, as shown for some other NER genes.