Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) is a developmental disorder caused by haploinsufficiency for genes deleted in chromosome band 7q11.23. A common deletion including at least 16-17 genes has been defined in the great majority of patients. We have completed a physical and transcription map of the WBS region based on analysis of high-throughput genome sequence data and assembly of a BAC/PAC/YAC contig, including the characterization of large blocks of gene-containing low-copy-number repeat elements that flank the commonly deleted interval. The WBS deletions arise as a consequence of unequal crossing over between these highly homologous sequences, which confer susceptibility to local chromosome rearrangements. We have also completed a clone contig, genetic, and long-range restriction map of the mouse homologous region, including the orthologues of all identified genes in the human map. The order of the intradeletion genes appears to be conserved in mouse, and no low-copy-number repeats are found in the region. However, the deletion region is inverted relative to the human map, exactly at the flanking regions. Thus, we have identified an evolutionary inversion with chromosomal breakpoints at the sites where the human 7q11.23 low-copy-number repeats are located. Additional comparative mapping suggests a model for human chromosome 7 evolution due to serial inversions leading to genomic duplications. This high-resolution mouse map provides the framework required for the generation of mouse models for WBS mimicking the human molecular defect.