Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (WHS), associated with a deletion of chromosome 4p, is characterized by mental and growth retardation and typical facial dysmorphism. A girl with clinical features of WHS was found to carry a subtle deletion of chromosome 4p. Initially suggested by high-resolution chromosome analysis, her deletion was confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with cosmid probes, E13 and Y2, of D4S113. To delineate this 4p deletion, we performed a series of FISH and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis analyses by using probes from 4p16.3. A deletion of approximately 2.5 Mb with the breakpoint at approximately 80 kb distal to D4S43 was defined in this patient and appears to be the smallest WHS deletion so far identified. To further refine the WHS critical region, we have studied three unrelated patients with presumptive 4p deletions, two resulting from unbalanced segregations of parental chromosomal translocations and one resulting from an apparently de novo unbalanced translocation. Larger deletions were identified in two patients with WHS. One patient who did not clinically present with WHS had a smaller deletion that thus eliminates the distal 100-300 kb from the telomere as being part of the WHS region. This study has localized the WHS region to approximately 2 Mb between D4S43 and D4S142.