Elastin is the extracellular matrix protein in vertebrates that provides elastic recoil to blood vessels, the lung, and skin. Because the elastin gene has undergone significant changes in the primate lineage, modeling elastin diseases in non-human animals can be problematic. To investigate the pathophysiology underlying a class of elastin gene mutations leading to autosomal dominant cutis laxa, we engineered a cutis laxa mutation (single base deletion) into the human elastin gene contained in a bacterial artificial chromosome. When expressed as a transgene in mice, mutant elastin was incorporated into elastic fibers in the skin and lung with adverse effects on tissue function. In contrast, only low levels of mutant protein incorporated into aortic elastin, which explains why the vasculature is relatively unaffected in this disease. RNA stability studies found that alternative exon splicing acts as a modifier of disease severity by influencing the spectrum of mutant transcripts that survive nonsense-mediated decay. Our results confirm the critical role of the C-terminal region of tropoelastin in elastic fiber assembly and suggest tissue-specific differences in the elastin assembly pathway.