Complex chromosome rearrangements (CCRs) are rare genomic structural aberrations involving three or more breakpoints on two or more chromosomes. About one-third of all CCRs are familial. Transmittance of such a CCR results either in genomic imbalance due to abnormal segregation at meiosis I or is stably passed on to the next generation. Here we present a phenotypically normal mother with a CCR involving chromosomes 1, 3, and 5 that gave birth to a phenotypically abnormal son. The boy presented with hypotonia, mild facial dysmorphisms, and severe intellectual disability. Conventional karyotyping revealed the same apparently balanced CCR as in the mother. However, by use of array-comparative genome hybridization (array-CGH) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) we discovered that one of the derivative chromosomes in the patient contained a de novo rearrangement. It appears that during transmission of the CCR, an additional de novo deletion and duplication had arisen in one of the derivative chromosomes. We speculate that this was the result of the inverted duplication with a distal deletion mechanism. We also demonstrate the importance of high-resolution breakpoint analysis in CCRs and stress that genetic counseling of a familial CCR is not straightforward. To our knowledge, this would be the first description of this mechanism operating on a structurally abnormal chromosome. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.