A genetic component in the etiology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has clearly been demonstrated by epidemiological and genetic linkage studies. Linkage to IBD on proximal Chromosome (Chr) 16p is well established and replicated. A stratification experiment showed that the recent identification of a disease gene on the q arm does not interfere with the approach on the p arm, and the linkage peak is still significant. Here we present a candidate gene study of the alpha integrins (CD11A-D) on Chr 16. The alpha integrins play a key role in inflammatory processes, including leukocyte adhesion and migration. Their genes are located on the p arm of Chr 16, and therefore represent excellent positional and functional candidates. Since the assignment of the CD11 genes in the genome was not clear, we performed physical, radiation hybrid, and fluorescent in situ hybridization mapping of the gene family. All CD11 genes map on Chr 16p11-12. CD11B-D are arranged in a gene cluster within 300 kb and CD11A is located about 2.5 Mb telomeric. Thirteen new single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and eight SNPs from databases were identified through full-length sequencing. Case-control statistics demonstrated an association lead in the CD11 gene cluster, which was not confirmed in further family based association/linkage analyses using single markers and haplotypes. It is unlikely that the CD11 genes play an important role in the pathogenesis of IBD. The marginally significant results could indicate a disease gene in the vicinity of the gene cluster.