Extra structurally abnormal chromosomes (ESACs) are small supernumerary chromosomes often associated with developmental abnormalities and malformations. We present 50 probands with ESACs characterized by fluorescence in situ hybridization using centromere-specific probes and chromosome-specific libraries. ESAC-specific libraries were constructed by flow sorting and subsequent amplification by DOP-PCR. Using such ESAC-specific libraries we were able to outline the chromosome regions involved. Twenty-three of the 50 ESACs were inverted duplications of chromosome 15 [inv dup(15)], including patients with normal phenotypes and others with similar clinical symptoms. These 2 groups differed in size and shape of the inv dup(15). Patients with a large inv dup(15), which included the Prader-Willi region, had a high risk of abnormality, whereas patients with a small inv dup(15), not including the Prader-Willi region, were normal. ESACs derived from chromosomes 13 or 21 appeared to have a low risk of abnormality, while one out of 3 patients with an ESAC derived from chromosome 14 had discrete symptoms. One out of 3 patients with an ESAC derived from chromosome 22 had severe anomalies, corresponding to some of the manifestations of the cat eye syndrome. Small extra ring chromosomes of autosomal origin and ESACs identified as i(12p) or i(18p) were all associated with a high risk of abnormality.