Gene-environment interactions in the periconceptional period play an increasing role in the pathogenesis of birth defects, including cleft lip and/or cleft palate (CUP). The P-glycoprotein, encoded by the ABCB1 gene, is suggested to protect the developing embryo from medication and other xenobiotic exposures. Furthermore, maternal medication use during early pregnancy is a significant risk factor for CL/P offspring. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate the association between the maternal and child's functional ABCB1 3435C > T polymorphism, periconceptional medication exposure, and the risk of a child with CL/P. A case-control study was performed among 175 mothers and 98 of their children with CL/P and 83 control mothers and their 65 children. Information on medication and folic acid use was collected. Mothers carrying the 3435TT genotype and using medication showed a 6.2-fold (95% CI = 1.6-24.2) increased risk of having a child with CL/P compared to mothers carrying the 3435CC genotype and not using medication. Periconceptional folic acid use reduced this risk by approximately 30% (OR = 3.9, 95% CI = 0.9-18.0). Mothers carrying the 3435TT genotype, using medication and not taking folic acid showed the highest risk estimate (OR = 19.2, 95% CI = 1.0-369.2). These data suggest that mothers who carry the ABCB1 3435C > T polymorphism are at significantly increased risk for having offspring with CL/P, especially mothers using medication in the periconceptional period. (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.