The Kabuki (Niikawa-Kuroki) syndrome was reported in 1981 by Niikawa et al. and Kuroki et al. in a total of ten unrelated Japanese children with a characteristic array of multiple congenital anomalies and mental retardation. The syndrome is characterized by a distinct face, mild to moderate mental retardation, postnatal growth retardation, dermatoglyphic and skeletal abnormalities. In Japan, the syndrome appears to have an incidence of about 1:32,000 newborns. Outside of Japan, a growing number of patients have been recognized. Clinical data are presented on 29 Caucasian patients; the patients were diagnosed over a relatively short period of time, indicating that the incidence outside of Japan is probably not lower than in Japan. A literature review of 89 patients (60 Japanese and 29 non-Japanese) is given. In 66% of the non-Japanese patients serious neurological problems were present, most notably hypotonia and feeding problems (which were not only related to the cleft palate); this was not reported in the Japanese patients. Inheritance is not clear. Most patients are isolated, sex-ratio is equal. The syndrome can be recognized in patients with cleft (lip/)palate, with mild to moderate developmental delay and in young children with hypotonia and/or feeding problems. In counselling parents, the designation "Kabuki" syndrome seems to be more appropriate than "Kabuki make-up" syndrome.