Distal arthrogryposis (DA) syndromes are the most common of the heritable congenital-contracture disorders, and ∼50% of cases are caused by mutations in genes that encode contractile proteins of skeletal myofibers. DA type 5D (DA5D) is a rare, autosomal-recessive DA previously defined by us and is characterized by congenital contractures of the hands and feet, along with distinctive facial features, including ptosis. We used linkage analysis and whole-genome sequencing of a multiplex consanguineous family to identify in endothelin-converting enzyme-like 1 (ECEL1) mutations that result in DA5D. Evaluation of a total of seven families affected by DA5D revealed in five families ECEL1 mutations that explain ∼70% of cases overall. ECEL1 encodes a neuronal endopeptidase and is expressed in the brain and peripheral nerves. Mice deficient in Ecel1 exhibit perturbed terminal branching of motor neurons to the endplate of skeletal muscles, resulting in poor formation of the neuromuscular junction. Our results distinguish a second developmental pathway that causes congenital-contracture syndromes.