We report on 14 patients with partial deletions of chromosome 13q. These patients exhibit a wide spectrum of phenotypes. Deletions limited to proximal bands q13-q31 are associated with growth retardation but not with major malformations. We review the literature since 1975 and summarize 13q deletion cases which have a phenotype involving one or more major malformations and mental retardation. Analysis of the breakpoints of these cases, as well as those reported by us, supports the hypothesis that only deletions involving at least part of band q32 are associated with major malformations and digital abnormalities. Patients with more distal deletions have severe mental retardation but do not have major malformations or growth retardation. A group of patients in whom the breakpoint is stated to be within q32 has had an intermediate phenotype. This suggests that it may be possible to define subregions within q32 whose deletion is associated with particular developmental defects.