We undertook clinical evaluation (32 cases) and molecular evaluation (31 cases) of unrelated patients affected with Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS) associated with an interstitial deletion of band p11.2 of chromosome 17. Patients were evaluated both clinically and electrophysiologically for peripheral neuropathy, since markers showing close linkage to one form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT1A) map to this chromosomal region. The common clinical findings were broad flat midface with brachycephaly, broad nasal bridge, brachydactyly, speech delay, and hoarse, deep voice. Fifty-five percent of the patients showed clinical signs (e.g., decreased or absent deep tendon reflexes, pes planus or pes cavus, decreased sensitivity to pain, and decreased leg muscle mass) suggestive of peripheral neuropathy. However, unlike patients with CMT1A, these patients demonstrated normal nerve conduction velocities. Self-destructive behaviors, primarily onychotillomania and polyembolokoilamania, were observed in 67% of the patients, and significant symptoms of sleep disturbance were observed in 62%. The absence of REM sleep was demonstrated by polysomnography in two patients. Southern analysis indicated that most patients were deleted for five 17p11.2 markers--FG1 (D17S446), 1516 (D17S258), pYNM67-R5 (D17S29), pA10-41 (D17S71), and pS6.1-HB2 (D17S445)--thus defining a region which appears to be critical to SMS. The deletion was determined to be of paternal origin in nine patients and of maternal origin in six patients. The apparent random parental origin of deletion documented in 15 patients suggests that genomic imprinting does not play a role in the expression of the SMS clinical phenotype. Our findings suggest that SMS is likely a contiguous-gene deletion syndrome which comprises characteristic clinical features, developmental delay, clinical signs of peripheral neuropathy, abnormal sleep function, and specific behavioral anomalies.