Single-strand conformational polymorphism (SSCP) and direct sequencing were used to confirm or deny carrier status in three families with ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) enzyme deficiency. Two male probands with "late onset" OTC deficiency, whose "private" mutations were previously characterized, inherited the mutations form their heterozygous mothers. One of the heterozygous mothers had a false negative allopurinol test. Three female siblings of the two male probands were tested, one proved to be a carrier of the respective mutation while the other two were found to have normal alleles. In the third family, the proband was a female with "late onset" presentation of OTC deficiency. We found a new point mutation in this girl consisting of a guanine-tocytosine transversion at nucleotide 520 resulting in a substitution of proline for alanine at amino acid 142 of the mature OTC protein. We confirmed that this mutation occurred spontaneously and that neither of the two parents carries this mutation. We conclude that SSCP, in conjunction with direct sequencing, is a useful technique that can be practically applied for carrier testing in families with OTC deficiency.