Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) or branched-chain alpha-ketoaciduria is an autosomally inherited disorder in the catabolism of branched-chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The disease is characterized by severe ketoacidosis, mental retardation, and neurological impairments. MSUD can be classified into genetic subtypes according to the genes of the branched-chain alpha-ketoacid dehydrogenase (BCKD) complex which are affected in patients. We describe here four intronic deletions and an intronic nucleotide substitution in the E2 transacylase gene of type II MSUD, in which the E2 subunit of the BCKD complex is deficient. These new E2 mutations comprise an internal 3.2-kb deletion in intron 4 (causing a 17-bp insertion in mRNA), an internal 12-bp (ttaccttgttac) deletion in intron 4 (creating a 10-bp insertion), a 10-bp (catttctaG) deletion in intron 10/ exon 11 junction (leading to a 21-bp deletion), a 2-bp deletion in the exon 5/intron 5 junction (ATgt--> A-t) (resulting in the skipping of exon 5), and a G to A transition at nucleotide -7 of intron 9 (causing a 6-bp insertion). These intronic mutations were initially detected by secondary alterations in the mutant E2 mRNA, as a result of aberrant splicing. The 3.2-kb deletion in intron 4 was determined by the amplification of the entire intron from both a normal subject (11.2 kb) and a homozygous patient (8 kb) by long PCR, followed by subcloning and sequencing of regions flanking the deletion. Similar methods were used to identify and characterize the other intronic alterations. Our results depict heretofore undescribed splicing errors caused by the deletion of internal intronic segments, and provide an approach for detecting this class of novel and rare human mutation. The association of the thiamine-responsive phenotype with a subset of the type II MSUD patients studied is also discussed.