One of female MZ twins presented with muscular dystrophy. Physical examination, creatine phosphokinase levels, and muscle biopsy were consistent with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). However, because of her sex she was diagnosed as having limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. With cDNA probes to the DMD gene, a gene deletion was detected in the twins and their mother. The de novo mutation which arose in the mother was shown by novel junction fragments generated by HindIII, PstI, or TaqI when probed with cDNA8. Additional evidence of a large gene deletion was given by novel SfiI junction fragments detected by probes p20, J-Bir, and J-66 on pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Immunoblot analysis of muscle from the affected twin showed dystrophin of normal size but of reduced amount. Immunofluorescent visualization of dystrophin revealed foci of dystrophin-positive fibers adjacent to foci of dystrophin-negative fibers. These data indicate that the affected twin is a manifesting carrier of an abnormal DMD gene, her myopathy being a direct result of underexpression of dystrophin. Cytogenetic analysis revealed normal karyotypes, eliminating the possibility of a translocation affecting DMD gene function. Both linkage analysis and DNA fingerprint analysis revealed that each twin has two different X chromosomes, eliminating the possibility of uniparental disomy as a mechanism for DMD expression. On the basis of methylation differences of the paternal and maternal X chromosomes in these MZ twins, we propose uneven lyonization (X chromosome inactivation) as the underlying mechanism for disease expression in the affected female.