The clinical manifestations and cytogenetic details of five patients with a de novo deletion of the short arm of chromosome 8, del(8)(p23), are described. Of the four surviving children all had mild mental retardation and subtle facial anomalies; three of the five had cardiac abnormalities. The clinical features seen in these patients are compared with those of three previous single case reports with del(8)(p23), and with patients described as having the '8p-' syndrome associated with del(8)(p21). The findings in these patients suggest that major congenital anomalies, especially congenital heart defects, are frequent even in small distal 8p deletions, but facial dysmorphism may be subtle and mental retardation less severe than in those with deletions associated with more proximal breakpoints. The five patients were detected within a four year period, suggesting that this deletion syndrome is relatively frequent. The possible mechanisms for the formation of terminal deletions are discussed.