Inherited factor XI deficiency is an injury-related bleeding disorder that is rare in most populations except for Jews, in whom 2 mutations, a stop mutation in exon 5 (type II) and a missense mutation in exon 9 (type III), predominate. Recently, a cluster of 39 factor XI-deficient patients was described in the Basque population of Southwestern France. In this study, we determined the molecular basis of factor XI deficiency in 16 patients belonging to 12 unrelated families of French Basque origin. In 8 families, a nucleotide 209T>C transition in exon 3 was detected that predicts a Cys38Arg substitution. Four additional novel mutations in the factor XI gene, Cys237Tyr, Tyr493His, codon 285deIG, and IVS6 + 3A>G, were identified in 4 families. Expression studies showed that Cys38Arg and Cys237Tyr factor XI were produced in transfected baby hamster kidney cells, but their secretion was impaired. Cells transfected with Tyr493His contained reduced amounts of factor XI and displayed decreased secretion. A survey of 206 French Basque controls for Cys38Arg revealed that the prevalence of the mutant allele was 0.005. Haplotype analysis based on the study of 10 intragenic polymorphisms was consistent with a common ancestry (a founder effect) for the Cys38Arg mutation.