The neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) inhibits food intake, and rodent models of BDNF disruption all exhibit increased food intake and obesity, as well as hyperactivity. We report an 8-year-old girl with hyperphagia and severe obesity, impaired cognitive function, and hyperactivity who harbored a de novo chromosomal inversion, 46,XX,inv(11)(p13p15.3), a region encompassing the BDNF gene. We have identified the proximal inversion breakpoint that lies 850 kb telomeric of the 5' end of the BDNF gene. The patient's genomic DNA was heterozygous for a common coding polymorphism in BDNF, but monoallelic expression was seen in peripheral lymphocytes. Serum concentration of BDNF protein was reduced compared with age- and BMI-matched subjects. Haploinsufficiency for BDNF was associated with increased ad libitum food intake, severe early-onset obesity, hyperactivity, and cognitive impairment. These findings provide direct evidence for the role of the neurotrophin BDNF in human energy homeostasis, as well as in cognitive function, memory, and behavior.