A glaucoma locus, GLC1A, was identified previously on chromosome 1q. A gene within this locus (encoding the protein myocilin) subsequently was shown to harbor mutations in 2-4% of primary open angle glaucoma patients. A total of 1703 patients was screened from five different populations representing three racial groups. There were 1284 patients from primarily Caucasian populations in Iowa (727), Australia (390) and Canada (167). A group of 312 African American patients was from New York City and 107 Asian patients from Japan. Overall, 61 different myocilin sequence variations were identified. Of the 61 variations, 21 were judged to be probable disease-causing mutations. The number of probands found to harbor such mutations in each population was: Iowa 31/727 (4.3%), African Americans from New York City 8/312 (2.6%), Japan 3/107 (2.8%), Canada 5/167 (3.0%), Australia 11/390 (2.8%) and overall 58/1703 (3.4%). Overall, 16 (76%) of 21 mutations were found in only one population. The most common mutation observed, Gln368Stop, was found in 27/1703 (1.6%) glaucoma probands and was found at least once in all groups except the Japanese. Studies of genetic markers flanking the myocilin gene suggest that most cases of the Gln368Stop mutations are descended from a common founder. Although the specific mutations found in each of the five populations were different, the overall frequency of myocilin mutations was similar (~ 2-4%) in all populations, suggesting that the increased rate of glaucoma in African Americans is not due to a higher prevalence of myocilin mutations.