The paternal ages of nonfamilial cases of achondroplasia (AC) (n = 78), thanatophoric dysplasia (TD) (n = 64), and osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) (n = 106), were compared with those of matched controls, from an Italian Indagine Policentrica Italiana sulle Malformazioni Congenite and a South American Estudio Colaborativo Latinoamericano de Malformaciones Congénitas series. The degree of paternal age effect on the origin of these dominant mutations differed among the three conditions. Mean paternal age was highly elevated in AC, 36.30 +/- 6.74 years in the IPIMC, and 37.19 +/- 10.53 years in the ECLAMC; less consistently elevated in TD, 33.60 +/- 7.08 years in the IPIMC, and 36.41 +/- 9.38 years in the ECLAMC; and only slightly elevated in OI in the ECLAMC, 31.15 +/- 9.25 years, but not in the IPIMC, 32.26 +/- 6.07 years. Increased maternal age or birth order in these conditions disappeared when corrected for paternal age. Approximately 50% of AC and TD cases, and only 30% of OI cases, were born to fathers above age 35 years. For AC and TD, the increase in relative incidence with paternal age fitted an exponential curve. The variability of paternal age effect in these new mutations could be due, among other reasons, to the high proportion of germ-line mosaicism in OI parents, or to the localization of the AC gene, mapped to the 4p16.3 region, in the neighborhood of an unstable DNA area.