We report genetic characterization of isochromosome 18p using a combination of cytogenetic and molecular genetic methods, including multiplex fluorescent PCR. The patient was referred for chorionic villus sampling (CVS) due to advanced maternal age and maternal anxiety. The placental karyotype was 47,XX,+mar, with the marker having the appearance of a small supernumerary isochromosome. Because differentiating between isochromosomes and other structural rearrangements is normally very difficult, a variety of genetic tests including fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), PCR, and multiplex fluorescent PCR were undertaken to determine chromosomal origin and copy number and, thus, allow accurate diagnosis of the corresponding syndrome. FISH determined that the marker chromosome contained chromosome 18 material. PCR of a variety of short tandem repeats (STRs) confirmed that there was at least one extra copy of the maternal 18p material. However, neither FISH nor PCR could accurately determine copy number. Multiplex fluorescent PCR (MF-PCR) of STRs simultaneously determined that: (1) the marker included 18p material; (2) the marker was maternal in origin; (3) allele copy number indicated tetrasomy; and (4) contamination of the sample could be ruled out. Results were also rapid with accurate diagnosis of the syndrome tetrasomy 18p possible within 5 hours.