The crystal structure of the sheet oxychloride mineral parkinsonite, nominally Pb7MoO9Cl2, has been determined for synthetic and natural crystals of analysed compositions, (Pb7.28Mo0.72) O8.96Cl1.96 and (Pb7.23Mo0.40V0.37) O8.90Cl1.82, respectively. Parkinsonite is tetragonal, space group I4/mmm. Unit-cell parameters for synthetic and natural crystals are: asynthetic = 3.9773(4) Å, csynthetic = 22.718(4) Å, Vsynthetic = 359.38(5) Å−3, and anatural = 3.9570(3) Å, cnatural = 22.634(5) Å, Vnatural = 354.40(5) Å3. Final agreement indices (R1, wR2) for refinements of the two crystals are 0.024, 0.067 (synthetic) and 0.036, 0.078 (natural). Although a superlattice has been identified by electron diffraction for crystals of both samples (Welch et al., 1996), only the substructure could be determined by X-ray diffraction. This X-ray invisibility of the superstructure has also been observed for the closely related sheet oxychlorides asisite and schwartzembergite, for both of which superstructure motifs have been identified by electron diffraction. The Pb(1) site of both parkinsonite crystals is fully occupied by Pb. Refinement of the Pb content of the Pb(2) site for the synthetic and natural crystals gives occupancies of 0.85(1) and 0.70(1) respectively, corresponding to 3.40 and 2.80 Pb(2) a.p.f.u. respectively. The substituent cation Mo (synthetic crystal) and [Mo+V] (natural crystal) was located at a distance of 0.5 Å from Pb(2), being displaced along the fourfold axis. The reduced occupancy of Pb(2) is due to substitution by Mo or [Mo+V]. No evidence for separate Mo and V sites in the substructure of natural parkinsonite was found. Refined occupancies of the Cl site are 0.84(4) and 0.91(5) for the synthetic and natural crystals, respectively, and are consistent with the 9:1 superstructure component identified by electron diffraction.