We have previously described a kindred with factor VII (FVII) deficiency whose members exhibited reduced procoagulant activity relative to FVII antigen concentration. In this report, the molecular genetic basis of the FVII defect has been determined to be a heterozygous substitution of Asp for Asn at position 57 in the first epidermal growth factor (EGF) domain. Recombinant FVII (N57D) cDNA was created by site-directed mutagenesis and transiently expressed in human 293 cells. The transfected cells synthesized an immunoprecipitable protein with an apparent molecular weight of 50 kD. Quantitation of expression by FVII enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay indicated that mutant protein yields were consistently low, typically 10% to 30% of wild-type FVII. FVII (N57D) protein did not accumulate intracellularly, and Northern blot analysis indicated equivalent FVII mRNA levels in 293 cells expressing either wild-type FVII or FVII (N57D). Secreted FVII (N57D) protein did not bind tissue factor, exhibited no procoagulant activity, and failed to bind a conformation-dependent monoclonal antibody specific for the first EGF domain of FVII. Molecular modeling of the first EGF domain of FVII predicted that the N57D amino acid substitution would disrupt tertiary bonding structure. We conclude that the N57D mutation affects folding of the first EGF domain of FVII resulting in decreased cellular secretion of a mutant FVII molecule, which is unable to bind tissue factor and is therefore biologically inactive.