The inheritance of adiposity levels has been investigated in an intercross of the obese, diabetes-prone NZO and the small, lean SM mouse strains. Adiposity index (AI) was defined as the sum of four fat pad weights divided by body weight. DNA pools from fat and lean mice were analyzed with microsatellite variants to screen the genome for quantitative trait loci (QTLs) affecting AI. Ten significant QTLs affecting AI were identified on Chromosome (Chr) 1 (three loci), Chr 2, Chr 5 (two loci), Chr 6 (two loci), Chr 7, and Chr 17. Most of the QTLs appear to be novel. Several QTLs differentially affect specific fat depots. Thus, Chr 2 and Chr 7 QTLs affect gonadal more than inguinal fat, while the converse is true for the Chr 17 QTL. Gender influences the expression of several of the QTLs. For example, effects of the proximal Chr 1 QTL (Obq7) on AI appears to be primarily in males. The proximal AI QTL on Chr 6 (Obq13) maps near the neuropeptide Y (Npy) locus. Sequence analysis of the Npy gene revealed a 1-nucleotide deletion within a highly conserved portion of the 3' untranslated region in strain NZO. However, the deletion is polymorphic among mouse strains. Furthermore, lack of association between this same variant and AI in previously analyzed crosses raises doubt that it is the basis of Obq13. The present cross is the fourth in a series of intercrosses among 10 inbred strains arranged such that each strain is crossed with each adjacent strain within a circle. This design affords multiple opportunities to analyze each segregating QTL.