We previously reported that our genome-scanning initiative had detected a highly significant linkage (log odds ratio = 4.95; P = 9 x 10(-7)) between a quantitative trait locus (QTL) on chromosome 2 and leptin levels in Mexican American families. We now have typed additional microsatellite markers in this region, increasing this log odds ratio score to 7.46 (P = 2 x 10(-9)). This region of chromosome 2 contains a strong positional candidate gene, POMC. The POMC gene codes for POMC, the prohormone from which alphaMSH, ACTH, and beta-endorphin are derived. Studies by others have shown that POMC-derived products are involved in the regulation of appetite and obesity. We have used polymorphisms in POMC to map its location within the 95% confidence interval of the peak for the linkage signal for the QTL. We also constructed POMC haplotypes using these polymorphisms and have found a significant association with normal variation in leptin levels (P = 0.001). We conclude that variation in POMC is associated with normal variation in serum leptin levels, providing further evidence that POMC may be the leptin QTL previously identified in Mexican American families.