Atopic dermatitis (AD) and ichthyosis vulgaris (IV) are two common disorders of epidermal homeostasis resulting in dry skin. The profilaggrin gene, located on chromosome 1q22, encodes a keratin filament aggregating protein (filaggrin) that is essential to forming the epidermal barrier and maintaining hydration. Null mutations in filaggrin have been found to underlie IV and are common in patients with AD, but the minority of African Americans with AD or IV show these mutations in filaggrin. We have selectively studied African Americans with both AD and IV to maximize the possibility of finding filaggrin null mutations in this population. DNA was collected using buccal swabs from 18 African American children with both AD and IV and 17 African American controls without either of these diseases. Purified genomic DNA was amplified using polymerase chain reaction from three regions of the filaggrin gene, exon 3, including R501X, 2282del4, E2554X, R2447X, 1249insG, R826X, 2767insT, and E2422X. Of the African American children with both AD and IV, 22.2% were heterozygous for filaggrin null mutations. Out of the control group, one carried a null mutation and was later discovered to have a history of asthma. Null mutations found in this population included R501X (n= 1), 2282del4 (n= 2), and R826X (n= 2, including the control patient). Our data demonstrate a prevalence of filaggrin mutations in the African American population that exceeds previously published data, although the overall prevalence is still lower than in other populations. It is likely that factors other than knownFLGmutations are involved in African American patients.