Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a complex neurodegenerative eye disease with behavioral and genetic etiology and is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss among elderly Caucasians. Functionally significant genetic variants in the alternative pathway of complement have been strongly linked to disease. More recently, a rare variant in the terminal pathway of complement has been associated with increased risk, Complement component 9 (C9) P167S. To assess the functional consequence of this variant, C9 levels were measured in two independent cohorts of AMD patients. In both cohorts, it was demonstrated that the P167S variant was associated with low C9 plasma levels. Further analysis showed that patients with advanced AMD had elevated sC5b-9 compared to those with non-advanced AMD, although this was not associated with the P167S polymorphism. Electron microscopy of membrane attack complexes (MACs) generated using recombinantly produced wild type or P167S C9 demonstrated identical MAC ring structures. In functional assays, the P167S variant displayed a higher propensity to polymerize and a small increase in its ability to induce hemolysis of sheep erythrocytes when added to C9-depleted serum. The demonstration that this C9 P167S AMD risk polymorphism displays increased polymerization and functional activity provides a rationale for the gene therapy trials of sCD59 to inhibit the terminal pathway of complement in AMD that are underway.