We investigated the prevalence of mutations in the PHD finger protein 8 (PHF8) gene in X-linked mental retardation (XLMR) and facial cleft starting from the original cohort of 7712 patients operated on since 1 January 1950 for cleft lip/cleft palate in the Cleft Centre at the Helsinki University Hospital. From this nationwide material, 18 patients including one family with two male patients with cleft lip/cleft palate and unknown cause of mental retardation (MR) were sequenced for the coding regions and splice sites of the PHF8 gene. A novel missense mutation c.836C>T of the PHF8 gene was identified in a Finnish family with multiple-affected male patients. The mutation resides in exon 8 and changes phenylalanine to serine (F279S) in the functionally important Jmonji C domain of the protein. The clinical phenotype of the male patients was characterized by mild MR, mild dysmorphic features, unilateral cleft lip and cleft palate in one and bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate in the other sibling. The mutation was not present in 200 anonymous blood donors (approximately 300 X-chromosomes). To our knowledge, F279S is the third mutation of the PHF8 gene identified so far.