Noonan syndrome is a developmental disorder characterized by short stature, facial dysmorphia, congenital heart defects and skeletal anomalies. Increased RAS-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling due to PTPN11 and KRAS mutations causes 50% of cases of Noonan syndrome. Here, we report that 22 of 129 individuals with Noonan syndrome without PTPN11 or KRAS mutation have missense mutations in SOS1, which encodes a RAS-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor. SOS1 mutations cluster at codons encoding residues implicated in the maintenance of SOS1 in its autoinhibited form. In addition, ectopic expression of two Noonan syndrome-associated mutants induces enhanced RAS and ERK activation. The phenotype associated with SOS1 defects lies within the Noonan syndrome spectrum but is distinctive, with a high prevalence of ectodermal abnormalities but generally normal development and linear growth. Our findings implicate gain-of-function mutations in a RAS guanine nucleotide exchange factor in disease for the first time and define a new mechanism by which upregulation of the RAS pathway can profoundly change human development.