Epidemiological studies suggest that inherited factors influence susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and some candidate loci have been described. In order to verify whether the same loci are responsible for predisposition to IBD in our population, we carried out a linkage study in a series of 58 Italian families with Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). HLA-DQ alleles, motilin gene, and 34 microsatellites flanking the previously described loci on chromosomes 3, 6, 7, 12 and 16 were analysed by non-parametric linkage analysis in 16 and 23 families with CD and UC, respectively, and in 19 families where CD and UC coexisted. Non parametric analysis using GENEHUNTER yielded maximum NPL scores for marker D16S408 in all IBD families combined (2.71, P = 0.003), for marker D16S419 in CD (1.97, P = 0.026) and for marker D16S514 in UC families (2.44, P = 0.007). These markers map in the previously described IBD1 region. No significant linkage was found for markers of chromosomes 3, 6, 7 and 12. The present study performed in a Southern European population provides additional support for the conclusion with the IBD1 locus has a clear role in the genetic susceptibility to IBD.