Pendred syndrome is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by the association between sensorineural hearing loss and thyroid swelling or goitre and is likely to be the most common form of syndromic deafness. Within the thyroid gland of affected individuals, iodide is incompletely organified with variable effects upon thyroid hormone biosynthesis, whilst the molecular basis of the hearing loss is unknown. The PDS gene has been identified by positional cloning of chromosome 7q31, within the Pendred syndrome critical linkage interval and encodes for a putative ion transporter called pendrin. We have investigated a cohort of 56 kindreds, all with features suggestive of a diagnosis of Pendred syndrome. Molecular analysis of the PDS gene identified 47 of the 60 (78%) mutant alleles in 31 families (includes three homozygous consanguineous kindreds and one extended family segregating three mutant alleles). Moreover, four recurrent mutations accounted for 35 (74%) of PDS disease chromosomes detected and haplotype analysis would favour common founders rather than mutational hotspots within the PDS gene. Whilst these findings demonstrate molecular heterogeneity for PDS mutations associated with Pendred syndrome, this study would support the use of molecular analysis of the PDS gene in the assessment of families with congenital hearing loss.