The co-segregation of plumage colour and sequence polymorphism in the melanocortin 1-receptor gene (MC1R) was investigated using an intercross between the red junglefowl and White Leghorn chickens. The results provided compelling evidence that the Extended black (E) locus controlling plumage colour is equivalent to MC1R. E/MC1R was assigned to chromosome 11 with overwhelming statistical support. Sequence analysis indicated that the E92K substitution, causing a constitutively active receptor in the sombre mouse, is the most likely causative mutation for the Extended black allele carried by the White Leghorn founders in this intercross. The MC1R sequence associated with the recessive buttercup (ebc) allele indicated that this allele evolved from a dominant Extended black allele as it shared the E92K and M71T substitutions with some E alleles. It also carried a third missense mutation H215P which thus may interfere with the constitutive activation of the receptor caused by E92K (and possibly M71T).