Summary. Background: Vitamin K epoxide reductase subunit 1 (VKORC1) is the molecular target of coumarin anticoagulants and mutations in VKORC1 have been identified previously in individuals who required high warfarin doses. Objective: Detailed characterization of the relationship between variation in VKORC1 and the warfarin resistance phenotype. Patients and methods: Serum warfarin concentration and coagulation parameters were determined in 289 subjects who required warfarin doses >20 mg day−1. The VKORC1 sequence was studied in selected study subjects. Results: Twenty-eight out of 289 (10%) subjects had serum warfarin >2.3 mg L−1 during stable therapeutic anticoagulation indicating pharmacodynamic warfarin resistance. Detailed analysis of 15 subjects from this group showed that eight out of 15 (53%) had nucleotide substitutions in VKORC1 predictive of p.V66M, p.L128R, p.V54L or p.D36Y. VKORC1 was normal in the remaining seven out of 15 (47%) subjects and in nine out of nine (100%) subjects with high warfarin dose requirement not caused by pharmacodynamic resistance. At referral, subjects with VKORC1 mutations received a median warfarin dose of 32 mg day−1 (range 22–55) and had a median serum warfarin concentration of 4.6 mg L−1 (range 2.6–9.0). VKORC1 substitutions were associated with a requirement for high warfarin doses but not with adverse clinical events. Family members with VKORC1 nucleotide substitutions and not receiving warfarin had undetectable PIVKA-II and K1 epoxide (K1O). Conclusions: Nucleotide variations in VKORC1 are a common cause of pharmacodynamic warfarin resistance but are not associated with adverse outcome during anticoagulation. Mutations associated with warfarin resistance do not cause a discernible defect in VKORC1 reductase function.