Robertsonian translocations (ROBs) are the most common chromosomal rearrangements in humans. ROBs are whole-arm rearrangements between the acrocentric chromosomes 13-15, 21, and 22. ROBs can be classified into two groups depending on their frequency of occurrence, common (rob(13q14q) and rob(14q21q)), and rare (all remaining possible nonhomologous combinations). Herein, we have studied 29 case subjects of common and rare de novo ROBs to determine their parental origins and timing of formation. We compared these case subjects to 35 published case subjects of common ROBs and found that most common ROBs apparently have the same breakpoints and arise mainly during oogenesis (50/54). These probably form through a common mechanism and have been termed "class 1." Collectively, rare ROBs also occur mostly during oogenesis (7/10) but probably arise through a more "random" mechanism or a variety of mechanisms and have been termed "class 2." Thus, we demonstrate that although both classes of ROBs occur predominantly during meiosis, the common, class 1 ROBs occur primarily during oogenesis and likely form through a mechanism distinct from that forming class 2 ROBs.