We studied 20 individuals from 17 unrelated families with congenital dyserythropoietic anemia (type II; CDAII). The clinical phenotype was mild to moderate. The inheritance pattern was invariably recessive. Coomassie blue stained gels after sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) show that band 3 was thinner and migrated slightly faster than usual. In addition, staining showed two unknown minor bands (in the patients), but not in normal controls, the obligate carrier parents, or in patients with other anemic syndromes. These minor proteins were studied using partial digestion, amino acid sequencing, Western blotting, immunofluorescence, and immunogold electron microscopy. They were identified as the glucose-regulated protein GRP78 and calreticulin that are resident proteins of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Using specific antibody, we showed that protein disulfide isomerase (PDI), a third major protein of the ER, was also present on the SDS-PAGE of red blood cell (RBC) ghosts. Immunofluorescence colocalized PDI with the dense discontinuous ring decorating the RBC membrane. Immunogold electron microscopy showed that PDI was localized in the lumen of the cisternae, confirming that these originate from the smooth ER. From a practical point of view, screening the above minor proteins in RBC membranes appears to be a straightforward and reliable diagnostic test for CDAII.