A questionnaire sent to major cytogenetics laboratories in the United States and Canada over a 10-year period collected data on the frequency and outcome of cases with either apparently balanced de novo rearrangements or de novo supernumerary marker chromosomes detected at amniocentesis. Of 377,357 reported amniocenteses, approximately 1/2,000 had a de novo reciprocal translocation, 1/9,000 a Robertsonian translocation, 1/10,000 a de novo inversion, and 1/2,500 an extra structurally abnormal chromosome of unidentifiable origin. The risk of a serious congenital anomaly was estimated to be 6.1% (n = 163) for de novo reciprocal translocations, 3.7% (n = 51) for Robertsonian translocations, and 9.4% (n = 32) for inversions. The combined risk for reciprocal translocations and inversions was 6.7% (95% confidence limits 3.1%-10.3%). The risk of abnormality for extra nonsatellited marker chromosomes was 14.7% (n = 68), and that for satellited marker chromosomes was 10.9% (n = 55). In non-Robertsonian rearrangements, distribution of breakpoints among chromosomes was not as would be expected strictly on the basis of length. Most breaks were stated to occur within G-negative bands, but there was little evidence of particular hot spots among these bands. Nevertheless, there did appear to be a correlation between those bands in which breakage was observed most often and those bands where common or rare fragile sites have been described.