The gamma-globin genes from a patient homozygous for a deletion form of hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin (HPFH-1) have been cloned and sequenced. The DNA sequence of the patient's gamma-globin genes corresponds to a previously identified sequence framework (chromosome A) with the exception of 10 base changes. Seven of these base changes can be attributed to normal allelic variation generated by small gene conversion events. The remaining three base changes are present in a 0.76 kb HindIII fragment containing a putative enhancer located 3′ to the A gamma-globin gene. The same three base changes have also been described in the Seattle variant of nondeletion HPFH. We have analyzed 16 alleles from non-HPFH individuals and five alleles from individuals with nondeletion or deletion HPFH for the presence of these base changes by polymerase chain reaction amplification of cloned or chromosomal DNA and hybridization to allele-specific oligonucleotide probes. Although these base changes were found in an individual with HPFH-2, they were not found in the DNA from two patients with nondeletion HPFH. More importantly, all three base changes were detected in DNA from five non-HPFH individuals and appear to be common in blacks. We conclude that these base changes do not correlate with an HPFH phenotype and that the significant mutation in HPFH-1 is the deletion of over 100 kb of genomic DNA.