Succinyladenosine and succinylaminoimidazole carboxamide riboside were found in body fluids from 3 children, including a brother and sister, with severe psychomotor delay and autism. Both succinylpurines were identified by acid hydrolysis, anion-exchange chromatography, and ultraviolet spectrophotometry. Concentrations of both compounds were around 100 mumol/l in cerebrospinal fluid, between 5 and 10 mumol/l in plasma, and in the mmol/l range in urine. Succinylpurines were undetectable in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma from controls but there might be trace amounts in normal urine. The compounds are dephosphorylated derivatives of the intracellular metabolites adenylosuccinate and succinylaminoimidazole carboxamide ribotide, the two substrates of adenylosuccinase (adenylosuccinate lyase, EC 22.214.171.124). Their presence indicates a deficiency of this enzyme, which is involved in both de novo synthesis of purines and the formation of adenosine monophosphate from inosine monophosphate. Assays in one patient revealed markedly decreased adenylosuccinase activity in the liver and absence of activity in the kidney. The accumulation of both succinylpurines in the cerebrospinal fluid suggests that there is also a deficiency of this enzyme in the brain and that it may be the basic defect in a subgroup of children with genetically determined autism.