Common disorders of childhood and adolescence are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD). For one to two cases in three diagnosed with ADHD the disorders may be comorbid. However, whether comorbid conduct problems (CP) represents a separate disorder or a severe form of ADHD remains controversial. We investigated familial recurrence patterns of the pure or comorbid condition in families with at least two children and one definite case of DSM-IV ADHDct (combined-type) as part of the International Multicentre ADHD Genetics Study (IMAGE). Using case diagnoses (PACS, parental account) and symptom ratings (Parent/Teacher Strengths and Difficulties [SDQ], and Conners Questionnaires [CPTRS]) we studied 1009 cases (241 with ADHDonly and 768 with ADHD + CP), and their 1591 siblings. CP was defined as > or =4 on the SDQ conduct-subscale, and T > or = 65, on Conners' oppositional-score. Multinomial logistic regression was used to ascertain recurrence risks of the pure and comorbid conditions in the siblings as predicted by the status of the cases. There was a higher relative risk to develop ADHD + CP for siblings of cases with ADHD + CP (RRR = 4.9; 95%CI: 2.59-9.41); p < 0.001) than with ADHDonly. Rates of ADHDonly in siblings of cases with ADHD + CP were lower but significant (RRR = 2.9; 95%CI: 1.6-5.3, p < 0.001). Children with ADHD + CP scored higher on the Conners ADHDct symptom-scales than those with ADHDonly. Our finding that ADHD + CP can represent a familial distinct subtype possibly with a distinct genetic etiology is consistent with a high risk for cosegregation. Further, ADHD + CP can be a more severe disorder than ADHDonly with symptoms stable from childhood through adolescence. The findings provide partial support for the ICD-10 distinction between hyperkinetic disorder (F90.0) and hyperkinetic conduct disorder (F90.1).