Familial hypobetalipoproteinemia can be caused by mutations in the apolipoprotein (apo)B gene that interfere with the translation of a full-length apoB molecule. Frequently, a truncated apoB molecule can be detected in the plasma lipoproteins of affected subjects. In this report, we characterize four different apoB gene mutations causing hypobetalipoproteinemia that are associated with the synthesis of truncated apoB proteins. Two of the mutations are nonsense mutations caused by single nucleotide substitutions; these mutations are associated with the production of apoB-32.5 (1473 amino acids) and apoB-82 (3733 amino acids). The other two mutations are single nucleotide deletions (of apoB cDNA nucleotides 7295 and 7359, respectively). The altered reading frames created by these different frameshift mutations terminated with the same stop codon, and both therefore yielded a truncated protein of identical size: apoB-52.8 (2395 amino acids). The two apoB-52.8 proteins differ, however, in the number of novel carboxyl-terminal amino acids introduced by the frameshift. The buoyant density of lipoproteins containing the truncated apoBs was inversely related to the length of the truncated apoB. ApoB-32.5 was present only in high density lipoproteins (HDL) and the d > 1.21 g/ml fraction, whereas apoB-82 was present almost exclusively in very low density lipoproteins (VLDL). ApoB-52.8 was present primarily in VLDL, intermediate density lipoproteins (IDL), and low density lipoproteins (LDL); trace amounts were observed in the HDL.