The aim of this study is to quantify the prevalence and types of rare chromosome abnormalities (RCAs) in Europe for 2000-2006 inclusive, and to describe prenatal diagnosis rates and pregnancy outcome. Data held by the European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies database were analysed on all the cases from 16 population-based registries in 11 European countries diagnosed prenatally or before 1 year of age, and delivered between 2000 and 2006. Cases were all unbalanced chromosome abnormalities and included live births, fetal deaths from 20 weeks gestation and terminations of pregnancy for fetal anomaly. There were 10,323 cases with a chromosome abnormality, giving a total birth prevalence rate of 43.8/10,000 births. Of these, 7335 cases had trisomy 21,18 or 13, giving individual prevalence rates of 23.0, 5.9 and 2.3/10,000 births, respectively (53, 13 and 5% of all reported chromosome errors, respectively). In all, 473 cases (5%) had a sex chromosome trisomy, and 778 (8%) had 45,X, giving prevalence rates of 2.0 and 3.3/10,000 births, respectively. There were 1,737 RCA cases (17%), giving a prevalence of 7.4/10,000 births. These included triploidy, other trisomies, marker chromosomes, unbalanced translocations, deletions and duplications. There was a wide variation between the registers in both the overall prenatal diagnosis rate of RCA, an average of 65% (range 5-92%) and the prevalence of RCA (range 2.4-12.9/10,000 births). In all, 49% were liveborn. The data provide the prevalence of families currently requiring specialised genetic counselling services in the perinatal period for these conditions and, for some, long-term care.