Population-based candidate-gene studies can be an effective strategy for identifying genes involved in the etiology of disorders where family-based linkage studies are compromised by lack of access to affected members, low penetrance, and/or genetic heterogeneity. We evaluated association data for four candidate genes using a population from the Philippines that is genetically separate from previously studied Caucasian populations. Case ascertainment was made possible by collaboration with Operation Smile, a volunteer medical organization, which facilitated identification of a large number of cases for study. A new allelic variant of transforming growth factor-beta 3 was identified to use in these studies. After exclusion of syndromic cases of cleft lip and palate, no evidence for association with previously reported allelic variants of transforming growth factor-beta 2 (TGFB2), homeobox 7 (MSX1), or transforming growth factor-alpha (TGFA), or with the new TGFB3 variant was detected. Previous association studies using Caucasian populations of nonsyndromic cleft lip and/or palate (CL/P) and cleft palate only (CPO) have strongly suggested a role for TGFA in the susceptibility of clefting in humans. Exclusion of significant association in a non-Caucasian population for TGFA suggests that TGFA plays less of a role than it does in Caucasians. This may be due to multiple or different genetic and/or environmental factors contributing to the etiology of this most common cranio-facial anomaly in the Philippine population.