False-negative cell-free DNA (cfDNA) screening results involving Down syndrome are rare, but have high clinical impact on patients and their healthcare providers. Understanding the biology behind these results may allow for improved diagnostic follow-up and counseling. In 5 different centers offering cfDNA prenatal screening, 9 false-negative results were documented in 646 confirmed cases of trisomy 21; a false-negative rate of 1.4% (95% CI, 0.7–2.6). False-negative results included 4 cases of classical trisomy 21 and 5 cases with a de novo 21q;21q rearrangement. Two out of five rearrangements had molecular studies and were confirmed as isochromosomes. When combined with reports from the cfDNA screening literature, 8 out of 29 (28%) Down syndrome cases with a false-negative “non-invasive prenatal test” (NIPT) were associated with a 21q;21q rearrangement, compared with 2% reported in live born children with Down syndrome. In our laboratory series, evidence for placental or fetal mosaicism was present in 3 out of 3 true-positive cases involving a 21q;21q rearrangement and was confirmed in one false-negative case where placental material was available for study. Isochromosome 21q rearrangements are thus overrepresented among false-negative cfDNA screening results involving Down syndrome. Postzygotic isochromosome formation leading to placental mosaicism provides a biological cause for the increased prevalence of these rearrangements among false-negative cases. For clinical practice, a low trisomic fraction (z-score or equivalent measure) relative to the fetal fraction suggests placental mosaicism. Care should be taken as these cases may not reflect confined placental mosaicism, but rather full trisomy in the presence of a placenta containing normal cells.