The inherited dentin defect dentinogenesis imperfecta (DI), while clinically obvious in osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) Types IB and IC, II, III, and IVB, is now thought to be present in all children with OI, in a continuum from minimal to severe dentin pathology. This collaborative study further clarifies the structural and ultrastructural dentin changes in the teeth of OI children with clinically obvious DI, and attempts to explain these in terms of odontoblast dysfunction. Collaborative studies were carried out in Melbourne, Australia, and Strasbourg, France, using light and polarized-light microscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM, TEM), selected-area diffraction (SAD), and x-ray spectroscopy (EDX). These showed structurally normal enamel (but containing long and broad lamellae) and a normally scalloped dentino-enamel junction (DEJ), but severe pathologic changes in the dentin. An initial narrow band of normal-appearing dentin tubules (including the mantle layer) ceased abruptly and was replaced by a wavelike laminar zone parallel to the DEJ with occluded tubules. Multiple parallel channels of 5-10 microns diameter were present at right angles to the DEJ indenting this zone, some terminating in retro-curved "processes." The abnormal dentin containing these channels almost completely occluded the pulp chamber. The structural and ultrastructural changes seen can be explained on the basis of the collagen defect in OI resulting in odontoblast dysfunction, which produces a distinct phenotype and one that is different from that in bone.