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We describe two patients with short-chain acyl-coenzyme A (CoA) dehydrogenase (SCADH) deficiency. Neonate I excreted large amounts of ethylmalonate and methylsuccinate; ethylmalonate excretion increased after a medium-chain triglyceride load. Neonate II died postnatally and excreted ethylmalonate, butyrate, 3-hydroxybutyrate, adipate, and lactate. Both neonates' fibroblasts catabolized [1-14C]butyrate poorly (29-64% of control). Neonate I had moderately decreased [1-14C]octanoate catabolism (43-60% of control), while neonate II oxidized this substrate normally; both catabolized radiolabeled palmitate, succinate, and/or leucine normally. Cell sonicates from neonates I and II dehydrogenated [2,3-3H]butyryl-CoA poorly (41 and 53% of control) and [2,3-3H]octanoyl-CoA more effectively (59 and 95% of control). Mitochondrial acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (ADH) activities with butyryl- and octanoyl-CoAs were 37 and 56% of control in neonate I, and 47 and 81% of control in neonate II, respectively. Monospecific medium-chain ADH (MCADH) antisera inhibited MCADH activity towards both butyryl- and octanoyl-CoAs, revealing SCADH activities to be 1 and 11% of control for neonates I and II, respectively. Fibroblast SCADH and MCADH activities were normal in an adult female with muscular SCADH deficiency.