Non-directional variation in right minus left differences in bilateral characters, referred to as fluctuating asymmetry (FA), often has been assumed to be largely or entirely environmental in origin. FA increasingly has been used as a measure of developmental stability, and its presumed environmental origin has facilitated the comparisons of populations believed to differ in their levels of stability. Directional asymmetry (DA), in which one side is consistently larger than the other, has been assumed to be at least partially heritable. Both these assumptions were tested with interval mapping techniques designed to detect any quantitative trait loci (QTLs) affecting FA or DA in 15 bilateral mandible characters in house mice resulting from a cross of the F1 between CAST/Ei (wild strain) and M16i (selected for rapid growth rate) back to M16i. For purposes of the analysis, all mandibles were triply measured and 92 microsatellite markers were scored in a total of 350 mice. No significant QTLs were found for FA, but three QTLs significantly affected DA in several characters, confirming both assumptions. The QTLs for DA were similar in location to those affecting the size of several of the mandible characters, although they accounted for an average of only 1% of the total phenotypic variation in DA.