Background: X linked intellectual disability (XLID) is common, with an estimated prevalence of 1/1000. The expanded use of array comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH) has led to the identification of several XLID-associated copy-number variants. Methods Array CGH analysis was performed using chromosomal microarray with ~105 000 oligonucleotides covering the entire genome. Confirmatory fluorescence in situ hybridisation analyses were subsequently performed. Chromosome X-inactivation (XCI) was assessed using methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme digestion followed by PCR amplification. Results: A novel ~0.5 Mb duplication in Xq28 was identified in four cognitively impaired males who share behavioural abnormalities (hyperactivity and aggressiveness) and characteristic facial features (high forehead, upper eyelid fullness, broad nasal bridge and thick lower lip). These duplications were inherited from mothers with skewed XCI and are mediated by nonallelic homologous recombination between the low-copy repeat regions int22h-1 and int22h-2, which, in addition to int22h-3, are also responsible for inversions disrupting the factor VIII gene in haemophilia A. In addition, we have identified a reciprocal deletion in a girl and her mother, both of whom exhibit normal cognition and completely skewed XCI. The mother also had two spontaneous abortions. Conclusions: The phenotypic similarities among subjects with int22h-1/int22h-2-mediated Xq28 duplications suggest that such duplications are responsible for a novel XLID syndrome. The reciprocal deletion may not be associated with a clinical phenotype in carrier females due to skewed XCI, but may be lethal for males in utero. Advancements in array CGH technology have enabled the identification of such small, clinically relevant copy-number variants.