Using a human phenylalanine hydroxylase cDNA probe, the restriction fragment length polymorphisms at the human phenylalanine hydroxylase locus have been determined with the restriction enzymes BglII, PvuII, EcoRI+BamHI, MspI, XmnI, HindIII and EcoRV. The frequency of the observed heterozygosity of the restriction site polymorphisms at this locus in a Chinese population is approximately 54%, which is significantly lower than that in Caucasians. No DNA rearrangement or deletion of the phenylalanine hydroxylase locus was detected among mutant phenylalanine hydroxylase genes in seven Chinese classical phenylketonuria (PKU) families. Haplotype analysis of these seven families revealed that the mutant alleles belonged to five different haplotypes, i.e. haplotype 4, 11 and three unreported haplotypes. The majority of normal and mutant phenylalanine hydroxylase genes are confined to hyplotype 4. These results indicate that approximately 42% of Chinese PKU families are informative for prenatal diagnosis of PKU when eight restriction sites linked to the phenylalanine hydroxylase locus are examined.