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A child with hemolytic anemia was found to have severe erythrocyte adenylate kinase (AK) deficiency, but an equally enzyme-deficient sibling had no evidence of hemolysis. No residual enzyme activity was found in erythrocytes by spectrophotometric methods that could easily have detected 0.1% of normal activity. However, concentrated hemolysates were shown to have the capacity to generate small amounts of ATP and AMP from ADP after prolonged incubation. Hemolysates could also catalyze the transfer of labeled gamma-phosphate from ATP to ADP. Intact erythrocytes were able to transfer phosphate from the gamma-position of ATP to the beta-position, albeit at a rate substantially slower than normal. They could also incorporate 14C-labeled adenine into ADP and ATP. Thus, a small amount of residual AK-like activity representing about 1/2,000 of the activity normally present could be documented in the deficient erythrocytes. The residual activity was not inhibited by N-ethylmaleimide, which completely abolishes the activity of the normal AK1 isozyme of erythrocytes. The minute amount of residual activity in erythrocytes could represent a small amount of the AK2 isozyme, which has not been thought to be present in erythrocytes, or the activity of erythrocyte guanylate kinase with AMP substituting as substrate for GMP. Peripheral blood leukocytes, cultured skin fibroblasts, and transformed lymphoblasts from the deficient subject manifested about 17, 24, and 74%, respectively, of the activity of the concurrent controls. This residual activity is consistent with the existence of genetically independent AK isozyme, AK2, which is known to exist in these tissues. The cause of hemolysis in the proband was not identified. Possibilities include an unrelated enzyme deficiency or other erythrocyte enzyme defect and intraction of another unidentified defect with AK deficiency.