Diffuse leiomyomatosis is associated with the inherited kidney disease Alport syndrome, and characterized by visceral smooth muscle overgrowth within the respiratory, gastrointestinal and female reproductive tracts. Although partial deletions of the type IV collagen genes COL4A5 and COL4A6, paired head-to-head on chromosome Xq22, are known to cause diffuse leiomyomatosis, loss of function for type IV collagen does not explain smooth muscle overgrowth. To further clarify pathogenic mechanisms, we have characterized novel deletions in patients with Alport syndrome-diffuse leiomyomatosis or Alport syndrome alone. A 27.6-kb deletion, in a female with Alport syndrome-diffuse leiomyomatosis, is marked by the most proximal, i.e. most 5', COL4A5 breakpoint described to date. By comparing this deletion to others described here and previously, we have defined a minimal overlap region, only 4.2 kb in length and containing the COL4A5-COL4A6 proximal promoters, loss of which contributes to smooth muscle overgrowth. A novel deletion in a male with Alport syndrome alone is>1.4 Mb in length, encompassing COL4A5 and COL4A6 entirely, as well as neighboring genes. We postulate that loss of the 4.2-kb region in diffuse leiomyomatosis causes misregulation of neighboring genes, contributing to smooth muscle overgrowth. Deletion of the neighboring genes themselves may afford protection from this condition.