FRAXE full mutations are rare and appear to be associated with mild mental retardation. As part of a screening survey of boys with learning difficulties to determine the frequency of full and premutations, we have collected data on the frequency of instability at FRAXE for about 4000 transmissions and the haplotype for over 7000 chromosomes. The distribution of FRAXE repeats was similar to other English populations but differed from two North American Caucasian series. Observed instability at FRAXE was rare but increased with increasing repeat number, and there were no expansions into the full mutation range, except in pedigrees ascertained through a full mutation. Haplotype analysis suggested division into five groups with each group having a characteristic distribution of FRAXE repeats. Fourteen of the 15 full mutations occurred on a single haplotype and this haplotype also had a significant excess of intermediate-sized alleles, suggesting that full mutations originate from large normal alleles. However, a related haplotype also had a significant excess of intermediates but we observed no full mutations on this haplotype, suggesting either loss or gain of stability determinants on it. We suggest that whilst triplet repeat size is a significant predisposing factor for expansion at FRAXE other genetic determinants are also likely to be important.