Obesity and craniofacial abnormalities may contribute to the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of body habitus and craniofacial characteristics on types of pharyngeal closure. The types of pharyngeal closure were determined by endoscopic evaluations of closing pressures of the passive pharynx in 54 paralyzed and anesthetized patients with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). Assessment of craniofacial characteristics of the SDB patients and 24 normal subjects were made by lateral cephalometry. As compared with normal subjects, SDB patients demonstrated receded mandibles and long lower faces with downward mandible development. SDB patients with positive closing pressures at both the velopharynx and oropharynx (VP + OP group) demonstrated smaller maxillas and mandibles than those with positive closing pressures at the velopharynx only (VP-only group). Obesity was more prominent in the VP-only group than in the VP + OP group. Our results suggest that obesity and craniofacial abnormalities contribute synergistically to increases in collapsibility of the passive pharyngeal airway in patients with SDB. Furthermore, the relative contribution of obesity and craniofacial anomaly appears to determine the type of pharyngeal closure in SDB.