Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS) is a multi-organ system birth defects disorder linked, in at least half of cases, to heterozygous mutations in the NIPBL gene. In animals and fungi, orthologs of NIPBL regulate cohesin, a complex of proteins that is essential for chromosome cohesion and is also implicated in DNA repair and transcriptional regulation. Mice heterozygous for a gene-trap mutation in Nipbl were produced and exhibited defects characteristic of CdLS, including small size, craniofacial anomalies, microbrachycephaly, heart defects, hearing abnormalities, delayed bone maturation, reduced body fat, behavioral disturbances, and high mortality (75-80%) during the first weeks of life. These phenotypes arose despite a decrease in Nipbl transcript levels of only approximately 30%, implying extreme sensitivity of development to small changes in Nipbl activity. Gene expression profiling demonstrated that Nipbl deficiency leads to modest but significant transcriptional dysregulation of many genes. Expression changes at the protocadherin beta (Pcdhb) locus, as well as at other loci, support the view that NIPBL influences long-range chromosomal regulatory interactions. In addition, evidence is presented that reduced expression of genes involved in adipogenic differentiation may underlie the low amounts of body fat observed both in Nipbl+/- mice and in individuals with CdLS.