Low bone mineral density (BMD) is a major risk factor for osteoporotic fracture. Studies of BMD in families and twins have shown that this trait is under strong genetic control. To identify regions of the genome that contain quantitative trait loci (QTL) for BMD, we performed independent genomewide screens, using two complementary study designs. We analyzed unselected nonidentical twin pairs (1,094 pedigrees) and highly selected, extremely discordant or concordant (EDAC) sib pairs (254 pedigrees). Nonparametric multipoint linkage (NPL) analyses were undertaken for lumbar spine and total-hip BMD in both cohorts and for whole-body BMD in the unselected twin pairs. The maximum evidence of linkage in the unselected twins (spine BMD, LOD 2.7) and the EDAC pedigrees (spine BMD, LOD 2.1) was observed at chromosome 3p21 (76 cM and 69 cM, respectively). These combined data indicate the presence, in this region, of a gene that regulates BMD. Furthermore, evidence of linkage in the twin cohort (whole-body BMD; LOD 2.4) at chromosome 1p36 (17 cM) supports previous findings of suggestive linkage to BMD in the region. Weaker evidence of linkage (LOD 1.0-2.3) in either cohort, but not both, indicates the locality of additional QTLs. These studies validate the use, in linkage analysis, of large cohorts of unselected twins phenotyped for multiple traits, and they highlight the importance of conducting genome scans in replicate populations as a prelude to positional cloning and gene discovery.