Molecular analysis of the Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) gene was performed on 4 unrelated patients with Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) presenting with dilated cardiomyopathy. Two patients with a deletion involving exon 1 were quite unique in that they developed fatal myocardial involvement in their teens, despite the absence of significant muscular weakness. The deletion found in these patients comprised the 3'-end of exon 1 and the greater part of intron 1. Two other patients with a deletion of exon 47 showed progressive muscular atrophy and weakness; they were considered to be typical BMD in both clinical features and the type of gene deletion. We speculate that a deletion around exon 1 may severely damage the expression and/or the function of dystrophin selectively in cardiac muscle, but not in skeletal muscle.