Fluorescence in situ hybridization of a tile path of DNA subclones has previously enabled the cyto-genetic definition of the minimal DNA sequence which spans the FRA16D common chromosomal fragile site, located at 16q23.2. Homozygous deletion of the FRA16D locus has been reported in adenocarcinomas of stomach, colon, lung and ovary. We have sequenced the 270 kb containing the FRA16D fragile site and the minimal homozygously deleted region in tumour cells. This sequence enabled localization of some of the tumour cell breakpoints to regions which contain AT-rich secondary structures similar to those associated with the FRA10B and FRA16B rare fragile sites. The FRA16D DNA sequence also led to the identification of an alternatively spliced gene, named FOR (fragile site FRA16D oxidoreductase), exons of which span both the fragile site and the minimal region of homozygous deletion. In addition, the complete DNA sequence of the FRA16D-containing FOR intron reveals no evidence of additional authentic transcripts. Alternatively spliced FOR transcripts (FOR I, FOR II and FOR III) encode proteins which share N-terminal WW domains and differ at their C-terminus, with FOR III having a truncated oxidoreductase domain. FRA16D-associated deletions selectively affect the FOR gene transcripts. Three out of five previously mapped translocation breakpoints in multiple myeloma are also located within the FOR gene. FOR is therefore the principle genetic target for DNA instability at 16q23.2 and perturbation of FOR function is likely to contribute to the biological consequences of DNA instability at FRA16D in cancer cells.