It has been demonstrated in several X-linked disorders, both with and without mental retardation, that the X-inactivation process plays a significant role in the expression of X-linked diseases in females. Moreover, in some disorders extremely skewed inactivation of the X chromosome is constant in carriers, and this is thought to result from a proliferation or a survival advantage for cells expressing the normal allele at this locus over cells expressing the mutated allele. X-linked mental retardation (XLMR) is heterogeneous, and cloning and characterization of the mutated genes are in progress. XLMR can be expressed in carrier females but often with milder manifestations. We report the systematic study of the X-inactivation profile of obligate carriers and other females in 19 multiplex XLMR pedigrees, using leucocyte-extracted DNA. Extremely skewed profiles were observed in carriers in three of 19 families.