Genotypic and phenotypic data are presented on three adult siblings with mild to moderate mental retardation and mild dysmorphic features. All three siblings showed a chromosome 20 gain at the q-telomere and loss at the p-telomere in routine subtelomeric MLPA screening. Analysis of GTG-banded chromosomes did not detect any abnormalities, but subtelomeric fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) confirmed cryptic partial monosomy of chromosome region 20p13 → 20pter and cryptic partial trisomy of chromosome region 20q13.33 → 20qter. Furthermore, FISH analysis in the mother showed a cryptic inv(20)(p13q13.33). This explained the cytogenetic mechanism underlying the chromosomal imbalance in the three children, that is, the meiotic formation of a recombinant chromosome 20 due to crossing-over in the inverted segment. All three children thus carried a rec(20)dup(20q)inv(20)(p13q13.33)mat chromosome. SNP array analysis enabled rapid and detailed imbalance sizing and showed a 1.06 Mb loss in 20p13 and a 2.51 Mb gain in 20q13.33, comprising 21 and 78 genes, respectively. The maternal inversion is the largest described thus far for chromosome 20, comprising 94.4% of its length. Such large inversions result in a particularly high risk for live-born unbalanced offspring because the partial monosomy and trisomy segments are small. Moreover, the inversion size is directly related to the percentage of unbalanced gametes due to high crossing-over change within the inverted segment. The fact that all three children carry an identical chromosomal rearrangement has consequences for genetic counseling for carriers of large pericentric inversions, as the recurrence risk is very high. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.