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We investigated the molecular basis for low expression and activity of CYP2D6 associated with the CYP2D6*41 allele in about 10–15% of Caucasians with intermediate metabolizer phenotype. With respect to two previously described polymorphisms in the promoter (−1584C>G) and in intron 6 (2988G>A; c.985+39G>A), the three most frequent functional alleles have the distinct haplotypes 2D6*1[CG], 2D6*2[GG] and 2D6*41[CA], respectively. Reporter gene analyses in transiently transfected HepG2 and Huh7 hepatoma cells did not indicate changes in transcription rate by these polymorphisms. By reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis of liver RNA of genotyped patients, however, we discovered that the 2988G>A change was associated with increased levels of a nonfunctional splice variant lacking exon 6. Quantification by denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography revealed up to 7.3-fold increased levels of the splice variant and up to 2.9-fold less functional transcript in carriers of 2D6*41, in good concordance with concomitant changes in immunoquantified CYP2D6 protein. Recombinant expression of the entire genomic sequence coding for 2D6*41, 2D6*2 and 2D6*1 alleles but lacking the upstream region in COS-1 and Huh7 cell lines resulted in two-fold to five-fold reduced levels of CYP2D6 mRNA containing exon 6, apoprotein and enzyme activity of 2D6*41. These experiments establish the causal relationship between the intron 6 single-nucleotide polymorphism 2988G>A and the low expression phenotype associated with allele 2D6*41. These data improve the CYP2D6 genotype–phenotype relationship and they demonstrate that major phenotype changes occurring in large population subgroups can be caused by intronic polymorphisms outside of splice site consensus sequences.