An analysis of the findings in 21 patients with the Cowden syndrome or the multiple hamartoma syndrome is presented. The Cowden syndrome is a cancer-associated genodermatosis with characteristic mucocutaneous findings and a wide array of associated abnormalities including a high incidence of breast cancer in female patients. Genetic studies confirmed autosomal dominant inheritance with a high penetrance in both sexes and moderate interfamilial and intrafamilial differences in the expressivity of a number of symptoms. Familial occurrence was present in 4 of the 7 families. There was a strong predominance of female patients (6:1), which may be fortuitous. Mucocutaneous changes were the most constant (100% incidence) and characteristic findings; they almost invariably became manifest in the second decade. Four of our 18 female patients (22%) were treated for breast cancer, a lower incidence than reported previously. No increased incidence of other types of malignancies was found. Craniomegaly (high head circumference) was found to be the most common extracutaneous manifestation (80% incidence); craniomegaly appears to be an important early marker. We also found high incidences of gastrointestinal polyps (approximately 60%) and cutaneous fibromas (76%), while the incidence of thyroid abnormalities, thus far regarded as the most common extracutaneous finding, was similar to that reported previously (62%). G-banded karyotype and preliminary DNA-repair studies revealed no clear abnormalities. No linkage with the loci of HLA, and immunoglobulin haplotypes was found.