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Using polymerase chain reaction amplification of DNA in dried blood spots and a nonisotopic reverse dot blot hybridization method, we performed molecular genetic analysis for 6 and for 16 of the most common mutations of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene (CFTR) in 24 unrelated Costa Rican individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). While many countries and ethnic groups have been surveyed for CF mutations since the cloning of CFTR, Costa Rica has not heretofore been studied. Moreover, Costa Rica represents an especially intriguing population because of its mixed European-African-Amerindian origins and the existence of a detailed historical record of the founding Spanish families. Thus, such a study may reveal not only the population frequencies of various mutant alleles in this country, but also something about their geographic migrations and ethnic founder effects. The most common CF mutation in Caucasians, ΔF508, was found in only 11 (23%) of the CF chromosomes studied, while the G542X mutation, relatively rare in the general population but more common in southern Europe, was observed in 12 (25%). None of the other mutations tested was found in any of the subjects. We failed to detect the second mutant allele in 17 subjects and could not detect either allele in 4 subjects. The high prevalence of the G542X mutation in our cohort, which exceeds that of both the general Caucasian population and the American Hispanic population, reflects the strong genetic influence of the original Spanish founding families of Costa Rica. These results highlight important differences in Costa Rican CF genotypes as compared both to other North American and European populations and to American Hispanics, raising important implications about isolated founder effects and strategies for population screening in that country.