We analyzed rates of extra structurally abnormal chromosomes (ESAC) detected in prenatal cytogenetic diagnoses of amniotic fluid reported to the New York Chromosome Registry. These karyotypes include both extra unidentified structurally abnormal chromosomes (EUSAC)--often denoted as "markers"--and extra identified structurally abnormal chromosomes (EISAC). The rate of all EUSAC was 0.64/1,000 (0.32-0.40/1,000 mutant and 0.23-0.32 inherited), and that of all EISAC was 0.11/1,000 (0.07/1,000 mutant and 0.04/1,000 inherited). The rate of all ESAC was approximately 0.8/1,000-0.4-0.5/1,000 mutant and 0.3-0.4/1,000 inherited. Mean +/- SD maternal age of mutant cases was 37.5 +/- 2.9, significantly greater than the value of 35.8 years in controls. A regression analysis indicated a rate of change of the log of the rate of about +0.20 with each year of maternal age between 30 and 45 years. When paternal age was introduced, the maternal age coefficient increased to about +0.25--close to that seen for 47, +21--but the paternal age coefficient was -0.06. After being matched for maternal age and year of diagnosis, the case-control difference in paternal age for 24 mutant cases was -2.4 with a 95% confidence interval of -4.6 to -0.1 years. In a regression analysis of the effects of both parental ages on the (log) rate, the maternal age coefficient was +0.25 and the paternal age coefficient was -0.06. These results are consistent with a (weak) negative paternal age effect in the face of a strong maternal age effect. Since ESAC include a heterogeneous group of abnormalities, the maternal age and paternal age trends, if not the result of statistical fluctuation or undetected biases, may involve different types of events. Data in the literature suggest that chromosomes with de novo duplicated inversions of 15p have a strong maternal age effect (but little paternal age effect). Such chromosomes, however, do not account for the active maternal age trends seen in the data analyzed here. Inherited ESAC exhibited no such trends.