We investigated the molecular basis of factor VII deficiency in a Japanese patient and identified a novel missense mutation in the signal sequence of the gene. Factor VII activity and antigen level measured in the patient were 10.7% and 11% of normal, respectively. All exons except 1B and the 5'-flanking region containing promoter region were amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from genomic DNA. Sequencing analysis of the PCR fragments revealed that the patient was a homozygote for a T to C substitution at nucleotide position 38. This mutation predicts an amino acid replacement of leucine to proline at codon - 26 in the hydrophobic core of the signal peptide, which probably affects translocation of the protein into endoplasmic reticulum and subsequently causes reduction in plasma factor VII level.