The most common X-linked recessive form of chronic granulomatous disease (X-CGD) is characterized by the absence of cytochrome b558 in neutrophils. In a rare variant form of X-CGD, cytochrome b558 is present but not functional. The gene (locus symbol CYBB) was localized to band Xp21 by studies of patients with small chromosome deletions. The gene was cloned based on its location and found to encode the 91-Kd subunit of the cytochrome b558 complex. Most female carriers for X-CGD can be identified by their X-inactivation mosaicism; on average 50% of their neutrophils express the mutant phenotype and fail to reduce nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT). In 2 of 4 families studied, the maternal grandmothers had normal NBT tests, suggesting either nonrandom X- inactivation or new mutations. Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis using closely linked flanking markers or the NsiI polymorphism detected by the CYBB probe itself, allowed us to identify the X chromosome carrying the mutation as derived from a healthy NBT-positive maternal grandfather. The mothers of the affected boys must have received a paternal X chromosome carrying a new mutation, consistent with the maternal grandmothers' normal NBT tests. In all of eight potential carriers studied, the results of the NBT and DNA marker testing were in complete agreement. Prenatal diagnosis by DNA testing can be performed in early gestation obviating the need for fetal blood sampling.