The factors involved in the mental development of patients with Apert's syndrome were studied by the authors, focusing on the age of the patient at operation, associated brain malformations, and the quality of the family environment. Overall, 32% of patients with significant follow-up review had an intelligence quotient (IQ) greater than 70. Age at operation appeared to be the main factor associated with changes in mental development: final IQ was greater than 70 in 50% of patients operated on before 1 year of age versus only 7.1% in patients operated on later in life (p = 0.01). Malformations of the corpus callosum and size of the ventricles played no role in the final IQ, whereas anomalies of the septum pellucidum had a significant effect, with the proportion of patients with an IQ over 70 increasing more than twofold in patients with a normal septum compared with patients with septal anomalies (p < 0.04). Quality of the family environment was the third factor involved in intellectual achievement: only 12.5% of institutionalized children reached a normal IQ level compared to 39.3% of children from a normal family background.