A beta globin gene from a patient with homozygous beta+ thalassemia has been cloned and completely sequenced. No changes from normal are found in the 200 nucleotides 5' to the cap site, in the 3' untranslated region up to the poly A addition site, in the small intervening sequence (IVS 1), or in the coding sequence except for a third base change in codon 2. The only other differences are in the large intervening sequence (IVS 2). One of these, at a position 16 nucleotides from the 5' end of IVS 2, has been reported previously in normal individuals, and is probably a polymorphism. Four other changes, at positions 74, 81, 666, and 705 are also seen in IVS 2. Abnormal beta globin mRNA precursors detected in the bone marrow cells of this patient, and abnormal beta globin RNA splicing observed when this gene is transcribed in a tissue culture system taken together with these IVS 2 changes, suggest that the beta+ thalassemia phenotype is produced by a decrease in normal beta globin mRNA processing.