Disorganization (Ds) is a mouse mutant best known for producing an exceptional variety of unusual developmental anomalies, such as mirror-limb duplications and hamartomatous skin papillae. So great is the range of malformations that no two affected mice are identical. Several patients with a similar variety of exceptional anomalies have been reported, raising the possibility of the existence of a human homologue of Ds. However, although these human cases represent the most striking findings seen in Ds mice, they do not represent the full range of defects. Most affected mice have only a single malformation, and most of these malformations are similar to both common (neural tube defects, orofacial clefting, gastroschisis, limb reductions) and rare (anophthalmia, duplicated rectum) human birth defects. It is therefore possible that the full spectrum of the human homologue of Ds includes not only patients with the unusual combination of anomalies but also common sporadic birth defects. We suggest that the low penetrance (~0-30%) and highly variable expression of Ds make it a paradigm for understanding the genetic basis for many seemingly sporadic birth defects.