The cDNA for a murine galactocerebrosidase was isolated from a murine testis cDNA library on the basis of its homology with the cDNA for human galactocerebrosidase and a PCR method was used to clone the 5' end. It has a 2,278-nucleotide sequence including a 2,004-nucleotide open reading frame, which encodes 668 amino acid residues. The identity between the human and murine amino acid sequences was very high, being calculated to be 84%. Sequencing of cDNA from liver of the twitcher mouse revealed a nonsense mutation at codon 339 (TGG-->TGA). The most abundant mRNA of the murine galactocerebrosidase gave a 3.6-kb band, which was not detected in twitcher mice. This suggests that the cDNA (2,278 bp) we characterized represents a minor species generated by an alternate poly(A) signal and that most of the mRNA has a much longer 3'-untranslated region. Genome analysis revealed that this mutation was homozygous in the twitcher and heterozygous in the carrier but was not present in normal mice. The normal mouse cDNA but not the mutant cDNA of the galactocerebrosidase transfected into COS1 cells gave rise to an increase in enzymatic activity. We concluded that this mutation results in the deficiency of galactocerebrosidase in the twitcher mouse.