Angelman syndrome (AS) and Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) share a cytogenetic deletion of chromosome 15q11q13. To determine the extent of deletion in AS we analyzed the DNA of 19 AS patients, including two sib pairs, with the following chromosome 15q11q13--specific DNA markers: D15S9-D15S13, D15S17, D15S18, and D15S24. Three molecular classes were identified. Class I showed a deletion of D15S9-D15S13 and D15S18; class II showed a deletion of D15S9-D15S13; and in class III, including both sib pairs, no deletion was detected. These molecular classes appear to be identical to those observed in PWS. High-resolution cytogenetic data were available on 16 of the patients, and complete concordance between the presence of a cytogenetic deletion and a molecular deletion was observed. No submicroscopic deletions were detected. DNA samples from the parents of 10 patients with either a class I or a class II deletion were available for study. In seven of the 10 families, RFLPs were informative as to the parental origin of the deletion. In all informative families, the deleted chromosome 15 was observed to be of maternal origin. This finding is in contrast to the paternal origin of the deletions in PWS and is currently the only molecular difference observed between the two syndromes.