The D15S9 and D15S63 loci in the Prader-Willi/Angelman syndrome region on chromosome 15 are subject to parent-of-origin-specific DNA methylation. We have found two Prader-Willi syndrome families in which the patients carry a maternal methylation imprint on the paternal chromosome. In one of these families, the patients have a small deletion encompassing the gene for the small nuclear ribonucleoprotein polypeptide N, which maps 130 kb telomeric to D15S63. Furthermore, we have identified a pair of nondeletion Angelman syndrome sibs and two isolated Angelman syndrome patients who carry a paternal methylation imprint on the maternal chromosome. These Angelman and Prader-Willi syndrome patients may have a defect in the imprinting process in 15q11-13. We propose a model in which a cis-acting mutation prevents the resetting of the imprinting signal in the germ line and thus disturbs the expression of imprinted genes in this region.