Molecular analysis has been performed on a Malaysian patient with a severe bleeding disorder due to factor XIII(A) subunit deficiency. Total mRNA was isolated from the patient's leucocytes and four overlapping segments corresponding to the entire coding region of the A subunit cDNA were amplified by RT-PCR. The cDNA segments amplified efficiently and were of expected size. Direct sequencing of the complete reading frame revealed a single homozygous base change (nt 1327G-T) in exon 10 corresponding to a missense mutation, Val414Phe, in the catalytic core domain of the A subunit monomer. The mutation eliminates a BsaJ1 restriction site and family screening showed that both parents were heterozygous for the defect. The base substitution was absent in 55 normal individuals. Val414 is a highly conserved residue in the calcium-dependent transglutaminase enzyme family. Computer modelling based on 3D crystallographic data predicts that the bulky aromatic side chain of the substituted phenylalanine residue distorts protein folding and destabilizes the molecule. In addition, conformation changes in the adjacent catalytic and calcium binding regions of the A subunit are likely to impair the enzymatic activity of any protein synthesized.