© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Sequencing and expression analyses implicate 14-3-3ζ as a genetic risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. In support of this notion, we recently found that 14-3-3ζ-/- mice in the Sv/129 background display schizophrenia-like defects. As epistatic interactions play a significant role in disease pathogenesis we generated a new congenic strain in the BALB/c background to determine the impact of genetic interactions on the 14-3-3ζ-/- phenotype. In addition to replicating defects such as aberrant mossy fibre connectivity and impaired spatial memory, our analysis of 14-3-3ζ-/- BALB/c mice identified enlarged lateral ventricles, reduced synaptic density and ectopically positioned pyramidal neurons in all subfields of the hippocampus. In contrast to our previous analyses, 14-3-3ζ-/- BALB/c mice lacked locomotor hyperactivity that was underscored by normal levels of the dopamine transporter (DAT) and dopamine signalling. Taken together, our results demonstrate that dysfunction of 14-3-3ζ gives rise to many of the pathological hallmarks associated with the human condition. 14-3-3ζ -deficient BALB/c mice therefore provide a novel model to address the underlying biology of structural defects affecting the hippocampus and ventricle, and cognitive defects such as hippocampal-dependent learning and memory.