We have analyzed cultured skin fibroblasts derived from patients with argininosuccinate synthetase deficiency for alterations in gene structure, mRNA content, and protein structure. Genomic DNA was digested with the endonucleases EcoRI or HindIII, and the fragments were analyzed by Southern blotting and hybridization with a cDNA probe for argininosuccinate synthetase. The blot pattern is complex because there are at least 10 copies of argininosuccinate synthetase-like genes scattered over multiple human chromosomes. All nine patients studied showed patterns of DNA fragments that were indistinguishable from the normal control cell lines, and despite the possibility that the complexity could mask some changes, major deletions of the active gene(s) were not present. Blot hybridization of RNA indicated the presence of hybridizable mRNA of approximately normal size in seven of seven individuals examined with a suggestion of some heterogeneity. Analysis of enzyme antigen by protein transfer from NaDodSO4 containing polyacrylamide gels revealed considerable heterogeneity. This analysis revealed no cross-reacting material (CRM) in nine cell lines, CRM of normal molecular weight in one cell line, and CRM of reduced molecular weight in one cell line. These findings suggest that the genes for argininosuccinate synthetase in most citrullinemia patients are transcribed and produce stable mRNA. These mRNA either are not translated, or the translation product (enzyme) is rapidly degraded or is immunologically nonreactive. Defective gene expression in this disorder appears to involve abnormal mRNA, which may be altered by point mutations, frame shift mutations, deletions, insertions or particularly by abnormal RNA processing.