In an attempt to define the distinctive Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (WHS) phenotype, and to map its specific clinical manifestations, a total of eight patients carrying a 4p16.3 microdeletion were analyzed for their clinical phenotype and their respective genotypes. The extent of each individual deletion was established by fluorescence in situ hybridization, with a cosmid contig spanning the genomic region from MSX1 (distal half of 4p16.1) to the subtelomeric locus D4S3359. The deletions were 1.9-3.5 Mb, and all were terminal. All the patients presented with a mild phenotype, in which major malformations were usually absent. It is worth noting that head circumference was normal for height in two patients (those with the smallest deletions [1.9 and 2.2 Mb]). The currently accepted WHS critical region (WHSCR) was fully preserved in the patient with the 1.9-Mb deletion, in spite of a typical WHS phenotype. The deletion in this patient spanned the chromosome region from D4S3327 (190 b4 cosmid clone included) to the telomere. From a clinical point of view, the distinctive WHS phenotype is defined by the presence of typical facial appearance, mental retardation, growth delay, congenital hypotonia, and seizures. These signs represent the minimal diagnostic criteria for WHS. This basic phenotype maps distal to the currently accepted WHSCR. Here, we propose a new critical region for WHS, and we refer to this region as "WHSCR-2." It falls within a 300-600-kb interval in 4p16.3, between the loci D4S3327 and D4S98-D4S168. Among the candidate genes already described for WHS, LETM1 (leucine zipper/EF-hand-containing transmembrane) is likely to be pathogenetically involved in seizures. On the basis of genotype-phenotype correlation analysis, dividing the WHS phenotype into two distinct clinical entities, a "classical" and a "mild" form, is recommended for the purpose of proper genetic counseling.