Two hundred and twenty-six patients with inherited C1 inhibitor (C1-INH) deficiency, also known as hereditary angioedema (HAE), have been studied. They belonged to 80 unrelated families, and in 11 of them C1-INH was functionally deficient but antigenically normal (type II HAE). Genetic analysis of type 1 families demonstrated restriction fragment length polymorphisms in 11% and abnormal mRNAs in 25%. In type II families, the site of the mutation appeared to determine the rate of catabolism of the dysfunctional C1-INH and its antigenic plasma levels. Clinical symptoms (subcutaneous and mucous swellings) generally first appeared within the second decade of life. The frequency of symptoms was highly variable from patient to patient, but a few patients remained asymptomatic throughout their lives. Prophylactic treatment with attenuated androgens was administered to 59 patients and was totally effective in 57, without significant side effects. Sixty-seven laryngeal and 15 abdominal attacks were treated with C1-INH plasma concentrate, yielding initial regression of symptoms in 30 to 90 minutes. The acquired deficiency of C1-INH, also known as acquired angioedema, was diagnosed in 9 patients. Eight of them had an autoantibody against C1-INH; the only patient without the autoantibody had associated chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Prophylactic treatment with attenuated androgens was effective in this last patient, while those with the autoantibody against C1-INH benefited from prophylaxis with antifibrinolytic agents. Replacement therapy with C1-INH concentrate was necessary only for patients with autoantibodies and required doses 3 or 4 times higher than those used in HAE.