More than 97% of achondroplasia cases are caused by one of two mutations (G1138A and G1138C) in the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) gene, which results in a specific amino acid substitution, G380R. Sporadic cases of achondroplasia have been associated with advanced paternal age, suggesting that these mutations occur preferentially during spermatogenesis. We have determined the parental origin of the achondroplasia mutation in 40 sporadic cases. Three distinct 1-bp polymorphisms were identified in the FGFR3 gene, within close proximity to the achondroplasia mutation site. Ninety-nine families, each with a sporadic case of achondroplasia in a child, were analyzed in this study. In this population, the achondroplasia mutation occurred on the paternal chromosome in all 40 cases in which parental origin was unambiguous. This observation is consistent with the clinical observation of advanced paternal age resulting in new cases of achondroplasia and suggests that factors influencing DNA replication or repair during spermatogenesis, but not during oogenesis, may predispose to the occurrence of the G1138 FGFR3 mutations.