OBJECTIVE: To study clinical, morphological and molecular characteristics in a Swiss family with autosomal dominant familial neurohypophyseal diabetes insipidus (adFNDI). PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: A 15-month-old girl presenting with symptoms of polydipsia and polyuria was investigated by water deprivation test. Evaluation of the family revealed three further family members with symptomatic vasopressin-deficient diabetes insipidus. T1-weighted magnetic resonance images of the posterior pituitary were taken in two affected adult family members and molecular genetic analysis was performed in all affected individuals. RESULTS: The water deprivation test in the 15-month-old child confirmed the diagnosis of vasopressin-deficient diabetes insipidus and the pedigree was consistent with autosomal dominant inheritance. The characteristic bright spot of the normal vasopressin-containing neurophypophysis was absent in both adults with adFNDI. Direct sequence analysis revealed a new deletion (177-179DeltaCGC) in exon 2 of the AVP-NP II gene in all affected individuals. At the amino acid level, this deletion eliminates cysteine 59 (C59Delta) and substitutes alanine 60 by tryptophan (A60W) in the AVP-NP II precursor; interestingly, the remainder of the reading frame remains unchanged. According to the three-dimensional structure of neurophysin, C59 is involved in a disulphide bond with C65. CONCLUSIONS: Deletion of C59 and substitution of A60W in the AVP-NP II precursor is predicted to disrupt one of the seven disulphide bridges required for correct folding of the neurophysin moiety and thus disturb the function of neurophysin as the vasopressin transport protein. These data are in line with the clinical and morphological findings in the reported family with adFNDI.