Newborn screening for fragile X syndrome (FXS) is technically possible, and in the relatively near future accurate and inexpensive screening technologies are likely to be available. When that happens, will America's public health system adopt newborn screening for fragile X syndrome? This article addresses this issue by first placing screening for FXS in the context of the history and current status of newborn screening policy and practice. Lack of a proven medical treatment may stand as a barrier to newborn screening, but strong arguments can be made that early intervention provides important services for identified newborns and their families. Furthermore, other arguments could be used to justify newborn screening, including informed reproductive risk, medically necessary information, and consumer demand. Fragile X syndrome is offered as a prototype for many of the issues that will face society as more genetic disorders are discovered and new technologies for screening are developed. MRDD Research Reviews 2004;10:3–10. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.