Fukuyama-type congenital muscular dystrophy (FCMD), one of the most common autosomal recessive disorders in Japan (incidence is 0.7-1.2 per 10,000 births), is characterized by congenital muscular dystrophy associated with brain malformation (micropolygria) due to a defect in the migration of neurons. We previously mapped the FCMD gene to a region of less than 100 kilobases which included the marker locus D9S2107 on chromosome 9q31. We have also described a haplotype that is shared by more than 80% of FCMD chromosomes, indicating that most chromosomes bearing the FCMD mutation could be derived from a single ancestor. Here we report that there is a retrotransposal insertion of tandemly repeated sequences within this candidate-gene interval in all FCMD chromosomes carrying the founder haplotype (87%). The inserted sequence is about 3 kilobases long and is located in the 3' untranslated region of a gene encoding a new 461-amino-acid protein. This gene is expressed in various tissues in normal individuals, but not in FCMD patients who carry the insertion. Two independent point mutations confirm that mutation of this gene is responsible for FCMD. The predicted protein, which we term fukutin, contains an amino-terminal signal sequence, which together with results from transfection experiments suggests that fukutin is a secreted protein. To our knowledge, FCMD is the first human disease to be caused by an ancient retrotransposal integration.