The skeletal dysplasias are a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of conditions affecting the development of the osseous skeleton and fall into the category of rare genetic diseases in which the diagnosis can be difficult for the nonexpert. Two such diseases are pseudoachondroplasia (PSACH) and multiple epiphyseal dysplasia (MED), which result in varying degrees of short stature, joint pain and stiffness and often resulting in early onset osteoarthritis. PSACH and some forms of MED result from mutations in the cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) gene and to aid the clinical diagnosis and counselling of patients with a suspected diagnosis of PSACH or MED, we developed an efficient and accurate molecular diagnostic service for the COMP gene. In a 36-month period, 100 families were screened for a mutation in COMP and we identified disease-causing mutations in 78% of PSACH families and 36% of MED families. Furthermore, in several of these families, the identification of a disease-causing mutation provided information that was immediately used to direct reproductive decision-making.