The analysis of cardiovascular malformations (CVM) in 3C (Ritscher-Schinzel) syndrome showed at least 9 types of CVM in 24 cases, including 4 cases from the Baltimore-Washington Infant Study. The proportion of different CVM forms was similar to that of the general population. The same is also true for many other syndromes of multiple congenital abnormalities (MCA), due either to aneuploidy or to Mendelian mutation. Such a wide spectrum of very different CVM in patients with the same entity has yet to be explained. According to the hypothesis proposed, the basic mutation (or chromosome imbalance) affects cellular homeostasis and leads to the "shifting" of a threshold to the left. This allows the expression of some genes silent under normal conditions. The principle of the shifted threshold is applicable to the explanation of the origin of many other defects in MCA syndromes.