A structural abnormality of chromosome 4 [inv 4 (p15.2; q21.3)] is reported in a male presenting with DSM-III-R schizophrenia, undifferentiated type (295.94) and in his mother, who displayed symptoms associated with schizotypal personality disorder (DSM-III-R 301.22). The proband had a performance IQ of 91, poor motor coordination, stature in the lowest quartile and an impaired sense of time. There were no diagnostic physical or neurological abnormalities. Mild ventricular enlargement and prominent sulci were found on computed tomography. Both he and his chromosomally normal father had strabismus which required surgical correction. This case joins the long list of chromosomal abnormalities previously reported to confer an increased risk of mental illness and emphasizes the importance of a sophisticated differential diagnosis in evaluating patients who present with symptoms of schizophrenia. The implications for recent initiatives which attempt to localize genes conferring susceptibility to schizophrenia and other major mental illnesses are discussed.