Recombination is the exchange of information between two homologous chromosomes during meiosis. The rate of recombination per nucleotide, which profoundly affects the evolution of chromosomal segments, is calculated by comparing genetic and physical maps. Human physical maps have been constructed using cytogenetics, overlapping DNA clones and radiation hybrids; but the ultimate and by far the most accurate physical map is the actual nucleotide sequence. The completion of the draft human genomic sequence provides us with the best opportunity yet to compare the genetic and physical maps. Here we describe our estimates of female, male and sex-average recombination rates for about 60% of the genome. Recombination rates varied greatly along each chromosome, from 0 to at least 9 centiMorgans per megabase (cM Mb(-1)). Among several sequence and marker parameters tested, only relative marker position along the metacentric chromosomes in males correlated strongly with recombination rate. We identified several chromosomal regions up to 6 Mb in length with particularly low (deserts) or high (jungles) recombination rates. Linkage disequilibrium was much more common and extended for greater distances in the deserts than in the jungles.