The structure and metabolism of type I and III collagens were studied in fibroblast cultures and dermis from 25 unrelated patients including 23 with typical Marfan syndrome and two infants with a very severe clinical form of this syndrome. Electrophoretic analysis of collagen α-chains, as well as one- and two-dimensional electrophoresis of collagen cyanogen bromide peptides, failed to show any evidence of primary structure defects or overmodification of lysine residues in these collagens. The proportion of hydroxylated prolyl residues in isolated α1(I) chains was also normal. There was a minimal increase in the proportion of type III collagen produced by nine cultures. The findings in this study indicate that the underlying molecular defects in the patients studied are unlikely to involve the structure of the main fibrillar type I and III collagens.