The limb-girdle muscular dystrophies are a genetically heterogeneous group of inherited progressive muscle disorders that affect mainly the proximal musculature, with evidence for at least three autosomal dominant and eight autosomal recessive loci. The latter mostly involve mutations in genes encoding components of the dystrophin-associated complex; another form is caused by mutations in the gene for the muscle-specific protease calpain 3. Using a positional cloning approach, we have identified the gene for a form of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy that we previously mapped to chromosome 2p13 (LGMD2B). This gene shows no homology to any known mammalian gene, but its predicted product is related to the C. elegans spermatogenesis factor fer-1. We have identified two homozygous frameshift mutations in this gene, resulting in muscular dystrophy of either proximal or distal onset in nine families. The proposed name 'dysferlin' combines the role of the gene in producing muscular dystrophy with its C. elegans homology.