Marfan syndrome (MFS), a heritable connective tissue disorder, is caused by mutations in the gene coding for fibrillin-1 (FBN1), an extracellular matrix protein. One of the three major categories of FBN1 mutations involves exon-skipping. To rapidly detect such mutations, we developed a long RT-PCR method. Either three segments covering the entire FBN1 coding sequence or a single 8.9 kb FBN1 coding segment were amplified from reverse-transcribed total fibroblast RNA. Restriction fragment patterns of these RT-PCR products were compared and abnormal fragments were directly sequenced. Six exon-skipping mutations were identified in a panel of 60 MFS probands. All skipped exons encode calcium binding epidermal growth factor (EGF)-like domains and maintain the reading frame. In five probands, exon-skipping was due to point mutations in splice site sequences, and one had a 6 bp deletion in a donor splice site. Pulse-chase analysis of labelled fibrillin protein revealed normal levels of synthesis but significantly reduced matrix deposition. This dominant-negative effect of the mutant monomers is considered in the light of current models of fibrillin assembly. Probands with this type of FBN1 mutation include the most severe forms of MFS, such as neonatally lethal presentations.