Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a rare multisystemic congenital anomaly disorder that is characterised by intellectual disability and growth retardation, congenital heart defects, intestinal anomalies, facial dysmorphism (including synophyris and high arched eyebrows) and limb reduction defects. Mutations in three cohesin-associated genes encoding a key regulator (NIPBL, chr 5p13.2) and one structural component of the cohesin ring (SMC1A, chr Xp11) occur in about 65% of CdLS patients. NIPBL is the major causative gene, and accounts for 40-60% of CdLS patients as shown by a number of mutational screening studies that indicate a wide mutational repertoire of mainly small deletions and point mutations. Only a few data are available concerning the occurrence of large NIPBL rearrangements or intragenic deletions or duplications involving whole exons. We used multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) to study 132 CdLS patients negative to the standard mutation NIPBL test out of a cohort of 200 CdLS patients. A total of 7 out of 132 patients were found to carry NIPBL alterations, including two large gene deletions extending beyond the gene, four intragenic multi- or single-exon deletions and one single-exon duplication. These findings show that MLPA leads to a 5.3% increase in the detection of mutations when used in addition to the standard NIPBL scan, and contributes per se to the molecular diagnosis of 3.5% (7/200) of clinically diagnosed CdLS patients. It is recommended that MLPA be included in the CdLS diagnostic flow chart.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 22 February 2012; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.7.