The 18q- syndrome is a deletion syndrome that is characterized by mental retardation, hearing loss, midfacial hypoplasia, growth deficiency, and limb anomalies. Most patients with this syndrome have deletions from 18q21-qter. We report on three patients with deletions of 18q23. A mother and daughter with identical deletions of 18q23 have many of the typical features of the 18q- syndrome, including midfacial hypoplasia and hearing loss. In contrast, the third patient has few of the symptoms of the 18q- syndrome. A contig of the 18q23 region was generated to aid in the mapping of the breakpoints. FISH was used to map both breakpoints to the same YAC clone. Furthermore, somatic-cell hybrids from the daughter and the third patient were isolated. The mapping results of sequence-tagged sites relative to the two breakpoints were identical, suggesting that the two deletion breakpoints map very close to one another. The analyses of these patients demonstrate that the critical region for the 18q- syndrome maps to 18q23 but that a deletion of 18q23 does not always lead to the clinical features associated with the syndrome. These patients demonstrate the wide phenotypic variability associated with deletions of 18q.