Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetically heterogeneous group of inherited ocular disorders characterized by progressive photoreceptor cell loss, night blindness, constriction of the visual field, and progressive visual disability. Homozygosity mapping and gene expression studies identified a 2 exon gene, C2ORF71. The encoded protein has no homologs and is highly expressed in the eye, where it is specifically expressed in photoreceptor cells. Two mutations were found in C2ORF71 in human RP patients: A nonsense mutation (p.W253X) in the first exon is likely to be a null allele; the second, a missense mutation (p.I201F) within a highly conserved region of the protein, leads to proteosomal degradation. Bioinformatic and functional studies identified and validated sites of lipid modification within the first three amino acids of the C2ORF71 protein. Using morpholino oligonucleotides to knockdown c2orf71 expression in zebrafish results in visual defects, confirming that C2ORF71 plays an important role in the development of normal vision. Finally, localization of C2ORF71 to primary cilia in cultured cells suggests that the protein is likely to localize to the connecting cilium or outer segment of photoreceptor cells. © 2010 The American Society of Human Genetics.