BACKGROUND: Inuit are considered to be vulnerable to cardiovascular disease because their lifestyles are becoming more Westernized. During sequence analysis of Inuit individuals at extremes of lipid traits, we identified 2 nonsynonymous variants in low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR), namely p.G116S and p.R730W. METHODS AND RESULTS: Genotyping these variants in 3324 Inuit from Alaska, Canada, and Greenland showed they were common, with allele frequencies 10% to 15%. Only p.G116S was associated with dyslipidemia: the increase in LDL cholesterol was 0.54 mmol/L (20.9 mg/dL) per allele (P=5.6x10(-49)), which was >3x larger than the largest effect sizes seen with other common variants in other populations. Carriers of p.G116S had a 3.02-fold increased risk of hypercholesterolemia (95% confidence interval, 2.34-3.90; P=1.7x10(-17)), but did not have classical familial hypercholesterolemia. In vitro, p.G116S showed 60% reduced ligand-binding activity compared with wild-type receptor. In contrast, p.R730W was associated with neither LDL cholesterol level nor altered in vitro activity. CONCLUSIONS: LDLR p.G116S is thus unique: a common dysfunctional variant in Inuit whose large effect on LDL cholesterol may have public health implications.