Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a heterogeneous group of connective-tissue disorders characterized by skin fragility, joint laxity, and skeletal deformities. Type V collagen appears to have a causal role in EDS types I and II, which show phenotypic overlap and may sometimes be allelic. Type V collagen can exist as a heterotrimer, [alpha1(V)]2alpha2(V), and it both coassembles with and regulates type I collagen-fibril diameter. Using an intragenic COL5A1 polymorphism, we have demonstrated linkage, at zero recombination, to the same allele in two large British EDS type II families (LOD scores 4.1 and 4.3). Affected members from each family were heterozygous for a point mutation in intron 32 (IVS32:T-25G), causing the 45-bp exon 33 to be lost from the mRNA in approximately 60% of transcripts from the mutant gene. This mutation lies only 2 bp upstream of a highly conserved adenosine in the consensus branch-site sequence, which is required for lariat formation. Although both families shared the same marker allele, we have been unable to identify a common genealogy. This is the first description of a mutation at the lariat branch site, which plays a pivotal role in the splicing mechanism, in a collagen gene. Very probably, the resulting in-frame exon skip has a dominant-negative effect due to incorporation of the mutant proalpha chain into the triple-helical molecule. These findings further confirm the importance of type V collagen in the causation of EDS type II, and the novel collagen mutation indicates the importance of the lariat branch site in splicing.