Segmental aneusomy for small chromosomal regions has been shown to be a common cause of mental retardation and multiple congenital anomalies. A screening method for such chromosome aberrations that are not detected using standard cytogenetic techniques is needed. Recent studies have focused on detection of subtle terminal chromosome aberrations using subtelomeric probes. This approach however excludes significant regions of the genome where submicroscopic rearrangements are also liable to occur. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficiency of comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) for screening of submicroscopic chromosomal rearrangements. CGH was performed in a cohort of 17 patients (14 families) with mental retardation, dysmorphic features and a normal karyotype. Five subtle unbalanced rearrangements were identified in 7 patients. Subsequent FISH studies confirmed these results. Although no interstitial submicroscopic rearrangement was detected in this small series, the study emphasises the value of CGH as a screening approach to detect subtle chromosome rearrangements in mentally retarded patients with dysmorphic features and a normal karyotype.