Autosomal recessive limb-girdle muscular dystrophies (AR LGMD) represent a heterogeneous group of diseases with a wide spectrum of clinical variability, classified phenotypically into two main groups, the most severe forms (Duchenne-like muscular dystrophy, DLMD, or severe childhood autosomal recessive muscular dystrophy, SCARMD) and the milder forms. Four genes causing AR LGMD have been mapped: the 15q (LGMD2a), the 2p (LGMD2b), the 13q locus (LGMD2c) and the adhalin gene on chromosome 17q (LGMD2d). In the present report we have performed linkage analysis with 17q markers in three mild AR LGMD and in four DLMD families with adhalin deficiency and unlinked to 2p, 15q or 13q genes. Linkage was observed only among the mild cases. Patients from these three 17q-linked families showed near or total deficiency of adhalin in muscle biopsies. An identical missense mutation was identified in all three 17q-linked unrelated families. These results indicate that AR LGMD with a mild phenotype is caused by mutations in the adhalin gene. In addition, they demonstrate that there is at least one other locus for DLMD associated with adhalin deficiency.