Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is caused by absence of a paternal contribution of the chromosome region 15q11-q13, resulting from paternal deletions, maternal uniparental disomy, or rare imprinting mutations. Laboratory diagnosis is currently performed using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), DNA polymorphism (microsatellite) analysis, or DNA methylation analysis at locus PW71 (D15S63). We examined another parent-of-origin-specific DNA methylation assay at exon alpha of the small nuclear ribonucleoprotein-associated polypeptide N gene (SNRPN) in patients referred with clinical suspicion of PWS or Angelman syndrome (AS). These included 30 PWS and 17 AS patients with known deletion or uniparental disomy status, and a larger cohort of patients (n = 512) suspected of PWS who had been analyzed previously for their methylation status at the PW71 locus. Results of SNRPN methylation were consistent with known deletion or uniparental disomy (UPD) status as determined by other molecular methods in all 47 cases of PWS and AS. In the larger cohort of possible PWS patients, SNRPN results were consistent with clinical diagnosis by examination and with PW71 methylation results in all cases. These data provide support for the use of SNRPN methylation as a diagnostic method. Because methylation analysis can detect all three major classes of genetic defects associated with PWS (deletion, UPD, or imprinting mutations), methylation analysis with either PW71 or SNRPN is an efficient primary screening test to rule out a diagnosis of PWS. Only patients with an abnormal methylation result require further diagnostic investigation by FISH or DNA polymorphism analysis to distinguish among the three classes for accurate genetic counseling and recurrence-risk assessment.