The acute form of proximal spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a severe autosomal recessive inherited neuromuscular disorder. It has been mapped to chromosome 5q 11.2-13.3. Using restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) or (CA)n repeats of DNA probes in this region, prenatal diagnosis is, in principle, possible. Misdiagnosis can be due to incorrect diagnosis in the index patient, and crossing-over events. Using the DNA probes D5S6, D5S112, D5S39, and D5S78, we cover a region of 10.4 mega-base pairs (Mbp) of partially NotI-digested genomic DNA without overlap of fragments. The DNA probes D5S6 and D5S112, most likely flanking the SMA gene, cover a distance of about 6.6 Mbp. This corresponds to the genetic distance of 6 cM (Morrison et al., 1992; Daniels et al., 1992). But since the precise localization of the SMA gene is still unknown (Simard et al., 1992), a 10 per cent risk of misdiagnoses due to crossing-over events cannot be excluded. The acceptance of this 10 per cent risk for prenatal diagnoses differs in SMA families. We observed a case in which a woman accepted a 25 per cent risk because RFLPs and (CA)n repeats were both uninformative. In contrast, another family did not accept the minimal 10 per cent risk and the pregnancy was terminated. In two families, we performed prenatal diagnosis by linkage analysis. One child predicted to be healthy has been born in the meantime and has shown no indication of SMA during her first 8 months.