Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a neurobehavioural disorder characterized by neonatal respiratory depression, hypotonia and failure to thrive in infancy, followed by hyperphagia and obesity among other symptoms. PWS is caused by the loss of one or more paternally expressed genes on chromosome 15q11-q13, which can be due to gene deletions, maternal uniparental disomy or mutations disrupting the imprinting mechanism. Imprinted genes mapped to this region include SNRPN (refs 3,4), ZNF127 (ref. 5), IPW (ref. 6) and NDN (which encodes the DNA-binding protein necdin; refs 7,8,9,10). The mouse homologues of these genes map to mouse chromosome 7 in a region syntenic with human chromosome 15q11-q13 (refs 7,11). Imprinting of the human genes is under the control of an imprinting center (IC), a long-range, cis-acting element located in the 5' region of SNRPN (ref. 12). A related control element was isolated in the mouse Snrpn genomic region which, when deleted on the paternally inherited chromosome, resulted in the loss of expression of all four genes and early post-natal lethality. To determine the possible contribution of Ndn to the PWS phenotype, we generated Ndn mutant mice. Heterozygous mice inheriting the mutated maternal allele were indistinguishable from their wild-type littermates. Mice carrying a paternally inherited Ndn deletion allele demonstrated early post-natal lethality. This is the first example of a single gene being responsible for phenotypes associated with PWS.