Recently mutations in the gene ZFHX1B (SIP1) were shown in patients with "syndromic Hirschsprung disease" with mental retardation (MR) and multiple congenital anomalies (MCA), but it was unclear if Hirschsprung disease is an obligate symptom of these mutations and if the distinct facial phenotype delineated by Mowat et al. [1998: J Med Genet 35: 617-623] is specific for ZFHX1B mutations. In order to address these open questions we analyzed the ZFHX1B gene in five patients, three of whom had "syndromic Hirschsprung disease" two with and one without the facial phenotype described by Mowat et al. , and two of whom had the distinct facial gestalt without Hirschsprung disease. Analyses of microsatellite markers and newly identified SNPs, and/or FISH with BACs from the ZFHX1B region excluded large deletions in all five patients. Direct sequencing demonstrated truncating ZFHX1B mutations in all four patients with the characteristic facial phenotype, but not in the patient with syndromic Hirschsprung disease without the distinct facial appearance. We demonstrate that there is a specific clinical entity with a recognizable facial gestalt, mental retardation and variable MCAs which we propose be called the "Mowat-Wilson syndrome."