The PDS gene encodes a transmembrane protein, known as pendrin, which functions as a transporter of iodide and chloride. Mutations in this gene are responsible for Pendred syndrome and autosomal recessive non-syndromic hearing loss at the DFNB4 locus on chromosome 7q31. A screen of 20 individuals from the midwestern USA with non-syndromic hearing loss and dilated vestibular aqueducts identified three people (15%) with PDS mutations. To determine whether PDS mutations in individuals with Pendred syndrome differ functionally from PDS mutations in individuals with non-syndromic hearing loss, we compared three common Pendred syndrome allele variants (L236P, T416P and E384G), with three PDS mutations reported only in individuals with non-syndromic hearing loss (V480D, V653A and I490L/G497S). The mutations associated with Pendred syndrome have complete loss of pendrin-induced chloride and iodide transport, while alleles unique to people with DFNB4 are able to transport both iodide and chloride, albeit at a much lower level than wild-type pendrin. We hypothesize that this residual level of anion transport is sufficient to eliminate or postpone the onset of goiter in individuals with DFNB4. We propose a model for pendrin function in the thyroid in which pendrin transports iodide across the apical membrane of the thyrocyte into the colloid space.