Methionine synthase catalyzes the remethylation of homocysteine to methionine via a reaction in which methylcobalamin serves as an intermediate methyl carrier. Over time, the cob(I)alamin cofactor of methionine synthase becomes oxidized to cob(II)alamin rendering the enzyme inactive. Regeneration of functional enzyme requires reductive methylation via a reaction in which S-adenosylmethionine is utilized as a methyl donor. Patients of the cblE complementation group of disorders of folate/cobalamin metabolism who are defective in reductive activation of methionine synthase exhibit megaloblastic anemia, developmental delay, hyperhomocysteinemia, and hypomethioninemia. Using consensus sequences to predicted binding sites for FMN, FAD, and NADPH, we have cloned a cDNA corresponding to the "methionine synthase reductase" reducing system required for maintenance of the methionine synthase in a functional state. The gene MTRR has been localized to chromosome 5p15.2-15.3. A predominant mRNA of 3.6 kb is detected by Northern blot analysis. The deduced protein is a novel member of the FNR family of electron transferases, containing 698 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of 77,700. It shares 38% identity with human cytochrome P450 reductase and 43% with the C. elegans putative methionine synthase reductase. The authenticity of the cDNA sequence was confirmed by identification of mutations in cblE patients, including a 4-bp frameshift in two affected siblings and a 3-bp deletion in a third patient. The cloning of the cDNA will permit the diagnostic characterization of cblE patients and investigation of the potential role of polymorphisms of this enzyme as a risk factor in hyperhomocysteinemia-linked vascular disease.