The ability to taste phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) shows complex inheritance in humans. We obtained a quantitative measure of PTC tasting ability in 267 members of 26 large three-generation families that were part of a set of CEPH families that had been used for genetic mapping. Significant bimodality was found for the distribution of age and gender adjusted scores (P<0.001), with estimated means of 3.16 (SD=1.80) and 9.26 (SD=1.54). Using the extensive genotyping available in these families from the genetic mapping efforts, we performed a genome scan by using 1324 markers with an average spacing of 4 cM. Analyses were first carried out with a recessive genetic model that has traditionally been assumed for the trait, and a threshold score of 8.0 delineating tasters from non-tasters. In this qualitative analysis, the maximum genome-wide lod score was 4.74 at 246 cM on chromosome 7; 17 families showed segregation of the dichotomous PTC phenotype. No other lod scores were significant; the next highest score was on chromosome 10 (lod=1.64 at 85 cM), followed by chromosome 3 (lod=1.29 at 267 cM). Because PTC taste ability exhibited substantial quantitative variation, the quantitative trait was also analyzed by using a variance components approach in SOLAR. The maximum quantitative genome-wide lod score was 8.85 at 246 cM on chromosome 7. Evidence for other possible quantitative loci was found on chromosomes 1 (lod=2.31 at 344 cM) and 16 (lod=2.01 at 14 cM). A subsequent two-locus whole-genome scan conditional on the chromosome 7 quantitative trait locus identified the chromosome 16 locus (two-locus lod=3.33 at 14 cM).