Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin condition caused by genetic and environmental factors. Recent genome-wide linkage analyses have identified a locus encoding susceptibility to psoriasis and placed this gene in the 12 cM interval between markers D6S426 and D6S276 on chromosome 6p21.3. This is a broad region and encompasses the human major histocompatibility complex. We have sought to localize the susceptibility gene more precisely by exploiting the linkage, haplotype, and linkage disequilibrium information available through genotyping 118 affected sib pairs, their parents and other affected family members. A total of 14 highly polymorphic markers were genotyped, combining anonymous loci with the class I genes HLA-B and -C distributed across a genetic interval of approximately 14 cM including the entire major histocompatibility complex. Through the application of higher density mapping within the major histocompatibility complex, we identified those regions most commonly shared identical by descent in patients with psoriasis. Using the transmission-disequilibrium test, we found significant evidence of linkage and allelic association across an interval defined by the markers tn62 (p = 1.0 x 10(-7)), HLA-B (p = 4.0 x 10(-7)), and HLA-C (p = 2.7 x 10(-9)), a region encompassed within a 285 kb genomic DNA fragment. Hence these studies contribute to the refinement of the localization of a major psoriasis susceptibility gene and place the critical region near to HLA-C.