Probe YNZ22 (D17S5) is a highly polymorphic, variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) marker previously shown to be deleted in all patients with the Miller-Dieker syndrome (MDS) but not in patients with isolated lissencephaly sequence (ILS). Primers were constructed to the unique sequence flanking the polymorphic, repetitive region of YNZ22 for amplification by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Analysis of 118 normal individuals revealed 12 alleles (differing in copy number of a 70-bp repeat unit) ranging in size from 168 to 938 bp. A retrospective study of eight MDS and six ILS patients was consistent with Southern blot analysis in all cases except one. In the latter, a very large allele (12 copies of the repeat unit) in a patient and her mother failed to amplify on initial attempts, but was successfully amplified by reducing the concentration of genomic DNA used in the reaction. Prospective studies on two MDS and five ILS patients were successfully performed and confirmed in all cases by Southern blot analysis. From the total sample, restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis was fully informative in four of ten MDS patients and showed a deletion in all four cases. Nine of eleven ILS patients were heterozygous and therefore not deleted for YNZ22. Development of primers for additional polymorphic markers in the Miller-Dieker region will lead to a rapid PCR-based diagnostic approach for all MDS and ILS patients. PCR typing of YNZ22 will also facilitate use of this marker in other applications, including genetic linkage, paternity and forensic studies, and analysis of loss of heterozygosity in tumors.