Obesity is a multifactorial trait with evidence of a genetic component. Obesity is very common in all westernized countries, including Finland, where 10% of the adult population has a body mass index of 32 kg/m2 or more. Here we report results from a three-stage genome-wide scan of obesity in 188 affected subjects (body mass index, > or =32 kg/m2) from 87 Finnish families. Initially, 374 markers with an average density of 10 centimorgans were genotyped. The strongest evidence for linkage to obesity was detected on chromosome Xq24, with the marker DXS6804 providing a maximum likelihood score (MLS) 3.14 in a model-free 2-point sibpair analysis. Fine-mapping in an extended sample set of 367 affected subjects from 166 families yielded a multipoint MLS of 3.48 over this X-chromosomal region. The Xq24 region contains a plausible candidate gene, serotonin 2C receptor, variants of which have been shown to predispose to obesity and type II diabetes in mice. Another chromosomal region also provided suggestive evidence of linkage, an area on 18q21, flanking the melanocortin-4 receptor, where a 2-point MLS of 2.42 with marker D18S1155 was obtained with a set of 367 affected subjects. In conclusion, our results in this Finnish study sample suggest that a locus on chromosome Xq24 influences the risk of obesity.