The purpose of a classification for clinical problems which, except for a few specialized centers, occur only sporadically is to provide a system where these cases can be stored. This should allow all involved investigators to speak the same language; so-doing syndromes can be delinated, frequencies of occurence established and results of--different--treatments compared. A classification system should be simple to use, reliable and uniformly accepted. It should allow space for adaptations and/or extensions. The IFSSH proposed a 7 categories classification based on the proposed classification of Swanson et al. in 1976. This classification, was based on, which was thought in the seventies, etiopathogenic pathways. These 7 groups are: I. Failure of formation; transverse (A), or longitudinal (B) II. Failure of differentiation III. Polydactyly IV. Overgrowth V. Undergrowth VI. Amniotic band syndrome VII. Generalized skeletal syndromes. The extended classification proposed by IFSSH was used to classify 1013 hand differences in 925 hands of 650 patients. We found associated anomalies in 26.7%. The classification was straightforward in 86%, difficult in 6.6% and not possible in 7.8%. Group II was the most numerous group including 513 anomalies. We propose to include in this group the Madelung deformity, the Kirner deformity and congenital trigger fingers and trigger thumbs. In group I the radial and ulnar deficiencies, limited to the hand without forearm deficlencies should be Included. Triphalangeal thumbs are a problem, we suggest it to be listed in group III and consider it as a duplication in length. It is not always possible to evaluate the (transverse) absence of the fingers or hand. Longitudinal deficiencies (group IIB), symbrachydactyly (group V), and amniotic bands (group IV) occasionally develop a phenotype similar to the genuine transverse deficiency (group IA). Recently, the Japanese Society for Surgery of the Hand (JSSH) (16) proposed an extension/modification of the IFSSH classification. Based on newer knowledge on teratology, symbrachydactyly in all stages were transfered to group I. Two new groups were introduced. A group "failure of finger ray induction" including typical cleft hand (IC), central polydactyly (III) and (bony) syndactyly (II)--was included. Also a group of "unclassifiable" cases was added. This Japanese proposed classification is a real improvement and most clinicians and surgeons tend to use it in the future.