The Jervell and Lange-Nielsen (JLN) syndrome (MIM 220400) is an inherited autosomal recessive disease characterized by a congenital bilateral deafness associated with a QT prolongation on the electrocardiogram, syncopal attacks due to ventricular arrhythmias and a high risk of sudden death. JLN syndrome is a rare disease, which seems to affect less than one percent of all deaf children. Linkage to chromosome 11p15.5 markers was found by analysing four consanguinous families. Recombinants allowed us to map the JLN gene between D11S922 and D11S4146, to a 6-cM interval where KVLQT1, a potassium channel gene causing Romano-Ward (RW) syndrome, the dominant form of long QT syndrome, has been previously localized. An homozygous deletion-insertion event (1244, -7 +8) in the C-terminal domain of this gene was detected in three affected children of two families. We found that KVLQT1 is expressed in the stria vascularis of mouse inner ear by in situ hybridization. Taken together, our data indicate that KVLQT1 is responsible for both JLN and RW syndromes and has a key role not only in the ventricular repolarization but also in normal hearing, probably via the control of endolymph homeostasis.