Angelman syndrome (AS) most frequently results from large (> or = 5 Mb) de novo deletions of chromosome 15q11-q13. The deletions are exclusively of maternal origin, and a few cases of paternal uniparental disomy of chromosome 15 have been reported. The latter finding indicates that AS is caused by the absence of a maternal contribution to the imprinted 15q11-q13 region. Failure to inherit a paternal 15q11-q13 contribution results in the clinically distinct disorder of Prader-Willi syndrome. Cases of AS resulting from translocations or pericentric inversions have been observed to be associated with deletions, and there have been no confirmed reports of balanced rearrangements in AS. We report the first such case involving a paracentric inversion with a breakpoint located approximately 25 kb proximal to the reference marker D15S10. This inversion has been inherited from a phenotypically normal mother. No deletion is evident by molecular analysis in this case, by use of cloned fragments mapped to within approximately 1 kb of the inversion breakpoint. Several hypotheses are discussed to explain the relationship between the inversion and the AS phenotype.