To determine the proportion and birth prevalence of "typical" orofacial clefts (cleft lip (CL), cleft palate (CP), cleft lip and palate (CLP)) and "atypical" clefts (median, transversal, or oblique facial clefts) and the conditions in which they occur, we analyzed a population-based sample of 4,433 cases ascertained from 2,509,881 California births. We classified cases into: isolated cleft anomalies, sequences of the primary defect, chromosomal aberrations, monogenic syndromes, results of known teratogens, associations, multiple congenital anomaly (MCA) of unknown etiology, or conjoined twins. The birth prevalence of isolated CL+/-P was 0.77 per 1,000 births (CL 0.29/1,000, CLP 0.48/1,000) and of isolated CP, 0.31 per 1,000 births. Non-Hispanic Whites had the greatest prevalence of isolated clefts, Asians slightly lower prevalences, and Blacks the lowest. Asians had the lowest prevalence of Robin sequence and nonHispanic Whites the highest, twice that of Hispanics. Hispanics, followed by Asians, had the highest prevalence of CL+/-P with MCA; non-Hispanic Whites had the lowest. Asians had the lowest prevalence of CP; in Whites and Hispanics it was almost twice as high. Blacks had the highest CL:CLP ratio, followed by non-Hispanic Whites and Asians; Hispanics had the lowest. Isolated anomalies constituted 61.67% of clefts. In the total sample there were 3.9% sequences, 8.79% chromosomal aberrations, 6.02% monogenic syndromes, 0.2% known teratogens, 0.79% associations, 18.55% MCA of unknown etiology, and 0.1% in conjoined twins. This study supports evaluation of each child on a "case" level, and provides a framework for genetic counseling and other studies focused on causes and prevention of these serious anomalies.