Genomic imprinting has been implicated in the aetiology of an overgrowth cancer-prone syndrome, the Wiedemann-Beck-with syndrome (WBS). We have demonstrated uniparental disomy (UPD) for paternal chromosome 11p markers in 5 out of 25 sporadic cases (20%). Delineation of the extent of the disomy region may help in understanding the mechanism and the stage, meiotic or mitotic, of disomy formation in this disease and in associated tumours. Our current studies in WBS patients with seventeen 11p and one 11q markers reveal paternal isodisomy, not heterodisomy, in the five cases. For one case we demonstrate unambiguously that partial isodisomy for 11p and somatic mosaicism for UPD resulted from a post-fertilization event. The restriction of isodisomy to part of 11p in another case, and somatic mosaicism for UPD in three other cases, suggest a mitotic recombinational event that must have occurred after fertilization. Mosaic phenotypes reflect the timing of their origin and the fate of the cells involved, as well as the cell-specific pattern of imprinting. Somatic mosaicism for UPD in four cases may thus explain the incomplete forms of WBS. The association of hemihypertrophy in sporadic WBS and even some cases of isolated hemihypertrophy. This is in agreement with a recent report of paternal isodisomy for 11p markers in a patient with hemihypertrophy, Wilms' tumour and adrenocortical carcinoma. Moreover, the risk of developing a tumour seems higher (50%) for patients with paternal 11p UPD than for WBS patients in general (7.5%).