Our aim was to characterize HDL subspecies and fat-soluble vitamin levels in a kindred with familial apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-I) deficiency. Sequencing of the APOA1 gene revealed a nonsense mutation at codon -2, Q[-2]X, with two documented homozygotes, eight heterozygotes, and two normal subjects in the kindred. Homozygotes presented markedly decreased HDL cholesterol levels, undetectable plasma apoA-1, tuboeruptive and planar xanthomas, mild corneal arcus and opacification, and severe premature coronary artery disease. In both homozygotes, analysis of HDL particles by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis revealed undetectable apoA-I, decreased amounts of small alpha-3 migrating apoA-II particles, and only modestly decreased normal amounts of slow alpha migrating apoA-IV- and apoE-containing HDL, while in the eight heterozygotes, there was loss of large alpha-1 HDL particles. There were no significant decreases in plasma fat-soluble vitamin levels noted in either homozygotes or heterozygotes compared with normal control subjects. Our data indicate that isolated apoA-I deficiency results in marked HDL deficiency with very low apoA-II alpha-3 HDL particles, modest reductions in the separate and distinct plasma apoA-IV and apoE HDL particles, tuboeruptive xanthomas, premature coronary atherosclerosis, and no evidence of fat malabsorption.