Endoglin (CD105), a component of the TGF-beta 1 receptor complex, is the target gene for the dominantly inherited vascular disorder hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia type 1 (HHT1). We have identified a novel endoglin splice site mutation, leading to an in-frame deletion of exon 3, in a new-born from a family with HHT. Expression of normal and mutant endoglin proteins was analyzed in umbilical vein endothelial cells from this baby and in activated monocytes from the affected father. In both samples, only normal dimeric endoglin (160 kD) was observed at the cell surface, at 50% of control levels. Despite an intact transmembrane region, mutant protein was only detectable by metabolic labeling, as an intracellular homodimer of 130 kD. In monocytes from three clinically affected HHT1 patients, with known mutations creating premature stop codons in exons 8 and 10, surface endoglin was also reduced by half and no mutant was detected. Overexpression into COS-1 cells of endoglin cDNA truncated in exons 7 and 11, revealed their intracellular expression, inability to be secreted and to form heterodimers at the cell surface. These results indicate that mutated forms of endoglin are transiently expressed intracellularly and not likely to act as dominant negative proteins, as proposed previously. A reduction in the level of functional endoglin is thus involved in the generation of HHT1, and associated arteriovenous malformations.