Primary congenital glaucoma (PCG) is a genetically heterogeneous disorder of autosomal recessive inheritance, with mutations in the cytochrome P450 1B1 (CYP1B1) gene detected in an average of similar to 50% of cases worldwide. The Roma/Gypsies are considered to be a rare example of a single founder CYP1B1 mutation, E387K (identified in the Slovak Roma), accounting for 100% of disease alleles. Contrary to this concept, unusual genetic heterogeneity was revealed in this study of 21 Gypsy PCG patients from Bulgaria and 715 controls from the general Gypsy population. In our small sample of affected subjects, we identified five different CYP1B1 mutations - four known (E229K, R368H, E387K and R390C) and one novel and potentially pathogenic (F445I), which together accounted for similar to 30% of disease alleles. E387K was rare in both the patient and the control group, indicating that its high frequency in the Slovak Roma is the product of local founder effect not representative of the overall molecular pattern of PCG in the Gypsy population. Data on other Mendelian disorders and on the population genetics of the Gypsies suggest that a true founder mutation is likely to exist and has remained undetected. Our analysis of another candidate gene, MYOC, and the GLC3B and GLC3C loci did not provide support for their involvement. The molecular basis of PCG in the Gypsies is thus unresolved, and diagnostic analyses should be extended beyond the E387K mutation.