Restriction endonuclease mapping with alpha and zeta-globin gene probes showed differences between the alpha-thalassemia-1 (alpha-thal-1) condition in two patients with HbH disease. One patient had the rare black type of alpha-thal-1 together with alpha-thal-2 and HbS heterozygosities. The second patient was a Laotian child with HbE, Hb Constant Spring (alpha-thal-2), and alpha-thal-1 heterozygosities. The diagnoses were based on clinical, hematologic, and biochemical data. Whereas DNA fragments hybridizing to a zeta-probe were obtained from the Laotian type of alpha-thal-1, neither alpha nor zeta-gene fragments could be identified deriving from the black type of alpha-thal-1. Therefore, the black type of alpha-thal-1 is associated with a deletion of the entire zeta 2-psi zeta-psi alpha-alpha 2-alpha 1 gene complex and can be considered a zeta alpha-thal-1. It is likely that homozygosity for such a condition will lead to embryonic wastage, explaining the absence of hydrops fetalis in blacks.