In this paper, a novel approach towards the prediction of hybrid performance and heterosis is presented. Here, we describe an approach based on: (i) the assessment of associations between AFLP(R) markers and hybrid performance and specific combining ability (SCA) across a set of hybrids; and (ii) the assumption that the joint effect of genetic factors (loci) determined this way can be obtained by addition. Estimated gene effects for grain yield varied from additive, partial dominance to overdominance. This procedure was applied to 53 interheterotic hybrids out of a 13 by 13 half-diallel among maize inbreds, evaluated for grain yield. The hybrid value, representing the joint effect of the genetic factors, accounted for up to 62.4% of the variation in the hybrid performance observed, whereas the corresponding efficiency of the SCA model was 36.8%. Efficiency of the prediction for hybrid performance was evaluated by means of a cross-validation procedure for grain yield of (i) the 53 interheterotic hybrids and (ii) 16 hybrids partly related to the 13 by 13 half-diallel. Comparisons in prediction efficiency with the 'distance' model were made. Because the map position of the selected markers is known, putative quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting grain yield, in terms of hybrid performance or heterosis, are identified. Some QTL of grain yield detected in the present study were located in the vicinity of loci reported earlier as having quantitative effects on grain yield.