A novel functional polymorphism in the GSTT1 gene associated with the non-conjugator phenotype has been identified. Sequencing of GSTT1 cDNA revealed a single nucleotide substitution, 310A>C, that altered the amino acid residue 104 from threonine to proline (T104P). Modelling studies of GSTT1 have suggested that residue 104 is located in the middle of alpha-helix 4. Introduction of an alpha-helix-disrupting proline most likely distorts the conformation of the protein. Individuals that lacked GSTT1 activity and carried the variant allele, tentatively denoted GSTT1*B, had no detectable GSTT1 immunoreactive protein. An allele-specific polymerase chain reaction method was developed to determine the frequency of the GSTT1*B allele. In 497 ethnic Swedes, the frequency of the active GSTT1*A allele was 0.65 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.62-0.68] whereas the frequencies of the non-functional alleles GSTT1*O and the novel GSTT1*B allele were 0.34 (CI 0.31-0.37) and 0.01 (CI 0.01-0.02), respectively. In 100 Swedish Saamis, the GSTT1*B allele appeared to be slightly more common with a frequency of 0.03 (CI 0.01-0.07). The GSTT1 enzyme activity was measured in erythrocytes using methyl chloride as substrate. Individuals with the GSTT1*A/*A genotype had a two-fold higher GSTT1 activity compared to individuals with the GSTT1*A/*B genotype and subjects with the GSTT1*O/*B genotype totally lacked GSTT1 activity, indicating a strict gene-dose effect. By combining the analyses for the novel single nucleotide polymorphism with analyses for the deletion polymorphism, the accuracy in predicting all three GSTT1 conjugator phenotypes was improved from 96% to 99%.