DYRK1A is the human orthologue of the Drosophila minibrain (mnb) gene, which is involved in postembryonic neurogenesis in flies. Because of its mapping position on chromosome 21 and the neurobehavioral alterations shown by mice overexpressing this gene, involvement of DYRK1A in some of the neurological defects of Down syndrome patients has been suggested. To gain insight into its physiological role, we have generated mice deficient in Dyrk1A function by gene targeting. Dyrk1A(-/-) null mutants presented a general growth delay and died during midgestation. Mice heterozygous for the mutation (Dyrk1A(+/-)) showed decreased neonatal viability and a significant body size reduction from birth to adulthood. General neurobehavioral analysis revealed preweaning developmental delay of Dyrk1A(+/-) mice and specific alterations in adults. Brains of Dyrk1A(+/-) mice were decreased in size in a region-specific manner, although the cytoarchitecture and neuronal components in most areas were not altered. Cell counts showed increased neuronal densities in some brain regions and a specific decrease in the number of neurons in the superior colliculus, which exhibited a significant size reduction. These data provide evidence about the nonredundant, vital role of Dyrk1A and suggest a conserved mode of action that determines normal growth and brain size in both mice and flies.