Paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH) is an acquired haematological disorder characterized by complement-mediated haemolytic anaemia caused by deficiency of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchored proteins. Somatic mutation of an X-linked gene, PIG-A, is responsible for the defect in biosynthesis of GPI-anchor. It appears that frequency of PNH differs geographically, and seems to be more frequent in some Asian countries, such as Thailand and China. We studied a group of 34 Thai patients with PNH to see whether the somatic mutations in PIG-A, extent of deficiency of GPI-anchored proteins (complete or partial) and complication with aplastic anaemia among Thai patients are different from those in other regions. We determined 37 PIG-A mutations in 33 patients (10 base substitutions, 14 single-base deletions, five multiple-base deletions, three single-base insertions, two multiple base insertions and three others) which were found to be similar to those found in European, American and Japanese patients. Most patients had cells with a complete deficiency of CD59 (type III cells), whereas 19% and 33% of the patients with reliable data for CD59 expression had partially deficient granulocytes and erythrocytes (type II cells), respectively. Most mutations resulted in a complete loss of function of PIG-A in accordance with the prevalent PNH III phenotype. 19 patients (51%) had aplastic anaemia; their PIG-A mutations were not different from those without pre-existing aplastic anaemia. These characteristics of Thai patients are similar to patients from other regions. There was some negative correlation between mean basal Hb concentration and percentage of CD59-negative granulocytes (r = -0.374; P = 0.0476). In addition, patients with severe anaemia (basal Hb <7 g/dl) had a significantly higher percentage of affected granulocytes than those with mild anaemia (88.5 +/- 9.4 v 64.9 +/- 25.9; P = 0.01). The data suggest that the severity of anaemia in PNH depends partly on the size of the PNH clone.