Ciliary disorientation has been proposed as a variant of primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD); cilia have normal ultrastructure and normal or near normal ciliary beat frequency (CBF) but lack efficacy because their beat direction is disorientated. We have identified 11 patients, including two siblings, with the clinical features of PCD, who satisfy these criteria. A chest radiograph, pulmonary function tests, nasal mucociliary clearance (NMCC), CBF, ciliary ultrastructure, and orientation were assessed in each subject. One patient had biopsies taken from the nose and both main bronchi. Eight patients had a computed tomography scan (CT) of the thorax; the clinical features were compatible with PCD. Cilia ultrastructure was normal and NMCC was absent in all cases. Mean CBF was normal (11.6-14.9 Hz) in five cases and slow in six (range 8.4-9.7 Hz). Ciliary beat pattern was stiff in seven cases, six of which had slow CBF. The cilia were disorientated when measured by both the central pair (range, 21.8 degrees - 26.4 degrees) and basal feet (range, 20.6 degrees - 28.9 degrees) compared with 16 normal controls (range, 11.0 degrees - 15.5 degrees and 12.3 degrees - 17.6 degrees, respectively). Two siblings had the clinical features of PCD and ciliary disorientation alone on repeated biopsies taken 10 yr apart. Orientation of cilia from the nose and bronchus was similar. Two cases had unchanged ciliary disorientation after 3 mo of treatment with antibiotics and topical corticosteroids. We concluded that ciliary disorientation alone can lead to the clinical syndrome of PCD.