We compared the efficacy of the multiplex PCR with that of the cDNA analysis for detection of deletions of the DMD gene in the Japanese patients. Thirty males with DMD from 27 Japanese families were studied by the multiplex PCR, and 24 of them were also investigated by Southern blot analysis. We used five dystrophin cDNA probes for deletion analysis. A total of 19 regions were amplified by the PCR to detect deletions, 9 regions by the method of Chamberlain et al. and another 10 regions by the method of Beggs et al. Deletions were detected in 14 (52%) out of 27 DMD families by the PCR. Southern blot analysis detected deletions in 14 (64%) out of 22 families. Thirteen (93%) of the 14 DMD families with deletions detected by Southern blotting were also confirmed by the multiplex PCR. Provided care is taken in cases where the deletion is limited to a single exon, the multiplex PCR appears to be an efficient and useful alternative to conventional Southern blot analysis for detecting deletions during the prenatal and postnatal diagnosis of DMD.