A clinical and echocardiographic study is presented of 117 families with Noonan syndrome. The 117 families contained 144 individuals with typical Noonan syndrome. The age range of these individuals was from one week to 45 years (mean 12.0 years). One parent was definitely affected with Noonan syndrome in only 14% of the 117 families (mother 11%, father 3%). In a further 31% of families, one parent had possible signs of Noonan syndrome, based on facial appearance only. Within the apparently sporadic group of probands there was no evidence of increased parental age. Echocardiography demonstrated no cases of subclinical cardiac disease in all first degree relatives examined, and clinical examination alone missed no case of cardiac disease. Segregation analysis of affected pedigrees confirmed autosomal dominant inheritance. If both parents had only possible or no signs of Noonan syndrome, subsequent to the birth of the first child with Noonan syndrome in a family, an empiric recurrence risk of 5% was obtained.