We have recently characterized a functional polymorphism in the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene that is responsible for substantial variability in COMT enzymatic activity found in humans. A common low-activity variant of the enzyme contains a methionine residue at amino acid 158 of membrane-bound COMT whereas the common high activity variant has a valine at this site. Considering the role of COMT in dopamine metabolism and the involvement of dopaminergic pathways in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and violence, we screened 37 patients with schizophrenia to determine whether or not a behavioral association with the COMT polymorphism exists. Patients were assessed for dangerousness on the basis of a history of violent and threatening behavior, crime, cocaine and alcohol abuse, and other antisocial behaviors. We found that schizophrenic patients who were homozygous for the low activity allele were judged by their psychiatrists to be at higher risk for aggressive and dangerous behavior than those who were homozygous for the high activity allele (Kruskal-Wallis statistic = 10.43; P = 0.003).