Overgrowth syndromes are a heterogeneous group of rare disorders characterized by generalized or segmental excessive growth commonly associated with additional features, such as visceromegaly, macrocephaly and a large range of various symptoms. These syndromes are caused by either genetic or epigenetic anomalies affecting factors involved in cell proliferation and/or the regulation of epigenetic markers. Some of these conditions are associated with neurological anomalies, such as cognitive impairment or autism. Overgrowth syndromes are frequently associated with an increased risk of cancer (embryonic tumours during infancy or carcinomas during adulthood), but with a highly variable prevalence. Given this risk, syndrome-specific tumour screening protocols have recently been established for some of these conditions. Certain specific clinical traits make it possible to discriminate between different syndromes and orient molecular explorations to determine which molecular tests to conduct, despite the syndromes having overlapping clinical features. Recent advances in molecular techniques using next-generation sequencing approaches have increased the number of patients with an identified molecular defect (especially patients with segmental overgrowth). This Review discusses the clinical and molecular diagnosis, tumour risk and recommendations for tumour screening for the most prevalent generalized and segmental overgrowth syndromes.