Mutations in the emerin gene, also referred to as the STA- or EMD-gene, have been found to be the cause of X-linked Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EMD). For the present study an optimized set of primers was designed to amplify and sequence each of the six emerin gene exons, including the intron/exon boundaries. All emerin gene exons of 30 unrelated EMD patients have been screened by heteroduplex analysis. Aberrant patterns of single exons were found in seven patients. Direct sequencing of the respective exons revealed six novel mutations distributed in the promotor region and exons 3-6 (delta nt -19 to -40; delta AG nt 620-621; ins A nt 895; delta AT nt 908-909; C-->A nt 1420; ins TA nt 1570). By this study, the first mutations in the promotor region and in exon 5 have been identified. Each of the 25 mutations that have been described so far, including those from the present study, abolishes the synthesis of functional emerin. The mutations were submitted to the EMD Mutation database (http://www.path.cam.ac.uk/emd).