Investigation of 31 of Roma patients with congenital lactic acidosis (CLA) from Bulgaria identified homozygosity for the R446* mutation in the PDHX gene as the most common cause of the disorder in this ethnic group. It accounted for around 60% of patients in the study and over 25% of all CLA cases referred to the National Genetic Laboratory in Bulgaria. The detection of a homozygous patient from Hungary and carriers among population controls from Romania and Slovakia suggests a wide spread of the mutation in the European Roma population.The clinical phenotype of the twenty R446* homozygotes was relatively homogeneous, with lactic acidosis crisis in the first days or months of life as the most common initial presentation (15/20 patients) and delayed psychomotor development and/or seizures in infancy as the leading manifestations in a smaller group (5/20 patients). The subsequent clinical picture was dominated by impaired physical growth and a very consistent pattern of static cerebral palsy-like encephalopathy with spasticity and severe to profound mental retardation seen in over 80% of cases. Most patients had a positive family history.We propose testing for the R446* mutation in PDHX as a rapid first screening in Roma infants with metabolic acidosis. It will facilitate and accelerate diagnosis in a large proportion of cases, allow early rehabilitation to alleviate the chronic clinical course, and prevent further affected births in high-risk families.