Especially applicable for heritable neoplasia, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is possible for any Mendelian disorder whose gene has been localized, whether the molecular basis is known or not. METHODS AND RESULTS: PGD requires DNA from gametes (oocytes) or embryos before 6 days postconception, when implantation occurs. Approaches include 1) polar body biopsy, 2) blastomere biopsy (aspiration of one or two cells from the six- to eight-cell embryos at 2 or 3 days), and 3) trophectoderm biopsy, which allows recovery of 20 or more cells (20-50) from 125- to 150-cell, 5- to 6-day blastocysts. Of some 6000 PGD cycles worldwide, approximately 1500 have been performed for Mendelian indications. The approximately 25% live birth rates following PGD parallel the general U.S. experience for assisted reproductive technology. PGD has been accomplished for both cancer-specific disorders like adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), BRCA1, retinoblastoma, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL), as well as disorders predisposing to neoplasia (Fanconi anemia, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome). PGD also makes possible the identification and, hence, transfer of embryos of specific HLA genotypes. This allows cord blood harvesting for stem cell implantation into a moribund child, often an older sibling of the fetus. CONCLUSIONS: PGD is a complex, but achievable, approach especially applicable to Mendelian forms of neoplasia. PGD is an attractive addition to the prenatal diagnostic armamentarium, especially relevant to heritable neoplasia. PGD also makes possible novel indications having special relevance to heritable neoplasia.