We have examined genomic DNA from 40 cases of autopsy-confirmed early-onset Alzheimer disease (EOAD) (age at onset <=65 years) that were all unselected for family history. We have sequenced the 10 exons and flanking intronic sequences of the presenilin-1 (PS-1) gene for all 40 individuals. A single mutation, a deletion of a G from the intron 4 splice-donor consensus sequence, was detected in two individuals in this study. The mutation was associated with two shortened transcripts, both with shifted reading frames resulting in premature-termination codons. All the PS-1 mutations described elsewhere have been missense or in-frame splice mutations, and recent data suggest that these result in disease by gain-of-function or dominant-negative mechanisms. The mutation that we have identified is likely to result in haploinsufficiency and would be most consistent with other mutations acting in a dominant-negative manner. However, we cannot exclude the possibility that the small amounts of truncated transcripts exert a gain of function. Since no other mutations or polymorphisms were detected in our patients, mutations in the coding regions and splice consensus sequences of PS-1 are likely to be rare in EOAD cases unselected for family history.