Mucopolysaccharidosis type VII (MPS VII) is an inherited disease resulting from deficient activity of the lysosomal acid hydrolase beta-glucuronidase (GUSB) and has been reported in humans, mice, cats, and dogs. To characterize canine MPS VII, we have isolated and sequenced the canine GUSB cDNA from normal and affected animals. A single nucleotide substitution was detected in the GUSB cDNA derived from MPS VII dogs. This guanosine to adenine base change at nucleotide position 559 in the canine cDNA sequence causes an arginine to histidine substitution at amino acid position 166. Introduction of the G to A substitution at position 559 in a mammalian expression vector containing the normal canine GUSB cDNA nearly eliminated the GUSB enzymatic activity, demonstrating that this mutation is the cause of canine MPS VII. A retroviral vector expressing the full-length canine beta-glucuronidase cDNA corrected the deficiency in MPS VII cells.