Chromosome 15 is frequently involved in the formation of structural rearrangements. We report the molecular characterisation of 16 independent interstitial duplications, including those of one individual who carried a duplication on both of her chromosomes 15, and three interstitial triplications of the Prader-Willi/Angelman syndrome critical region (PWACR). In all probands except one, the rearrangement was maternal in origin. In one family, the duplication was paternal in origin, yet appeared to segregate in a sibship of three with an abnormal phenotype that included developmental delay and a behavioural disorder. Ten duplications were familial, five de novo and one unknown. All 16 duplications, including two not visible by routine G-banding, were of an almost uniform size and shared the common deletion breakpoints of Prader-Willi syndrome and Angelman syndrome. Like deletions, the formation of duplications can occur in both male and female meiosis and involve both inter- and intrachromosomal events. This implies that at least some deletions and duplications are the reciprocal products of each other. We observed no instances of meiotic instability in the transmission of a duplication, although recombination within the PWACR occurred in two members of the same family between the normal and the duplicated chromosome 15 homologues. All three triplications arose de novo and included alleles from both maternal chromosomes 15. Triplication breakpoints were more variable and extended distally beyond the PWACR. The molecular characteristics of duplications and triplications suggest that they are formed by different mechanisms.