Cohen syndrome is an autosomal recessive disorder that is characterized by mental retardation, facial dysmorphism, microcephaly, retinal dystrophy, truncal obesity, joint laxity and intermittent neutropenia. Mutations in the VPS13B (COH1) gene underlie Cohen syndrome. In approximately 70% of the patients mutations in the gene are identified on both alleles, while in about 30% only a mutation in a single allele or no mutant allele is detected. The VPS13B locus was recently added to the growing list of benign copy number variants. We hypothesized that patients with unexplained Cohen syndrome would harbour deletions affecting the VPS13B locus. We screened 35 patients from 26 families with targeted array CGH and identified 7 copy number alterations: 2 homozygous and 5 heterozygous deletions. Our results show that deletions are an important cause of Cohen syndrome and screening for copy number alterations of VPS13B should be an integral part of the diagnostic work-up of these patients. These findings have important consequences for the diagnosis of patients with genetic disorders in general since, as we highlight, rare benign copy number variants can underly autosomal recessive disorders and lead to disease in homozygous state or in compound heterozygosity with another mutation. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.