Monilethrix is a rare human hair disorder with autosomal dominant transmission that can be caused by mutations in hair keratins. Up until now, pathogenic mutations in the type II hair cortex keratins hHb6 and hHb1 were restricted to a highly conserved glutamic acid residue Glu413 (Glu117 of the 2B subdomains) in the EIATYRRLLEGEE helix termination motif of the two keratins. The critical glutamic acid residue was substituted either by a lysine or, less frequently, by an aspartic acid residue. Here we report a novel mutation in a French monilethrix family, which again consists of a lysine substitution of another highly conserved glutamic acid residue, Glu402 (Glu106 of the 2B subdomain), in the EIATYRRLLEGEE motif of hHb1. Family members bearing the hHb1 Glu402Lys mutation exhibit a particularly variable disease phenotype. The pedigree comprises two infant members, one with pronounced dystrophic alopecia, follicular keratosis, and clear-cut moniliform hair, and one with no hair loss at all and moniliform hair detectable only by electron microscopy, as well as an adult individual without any clinically or electron microscopically detectable symptoms, but with clear historical proof of the disease.