Myotonic dystrophy (DM), the most common form of muscular dystrophy in adults, is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous neuromuscular disorder. DM is characterized by autosomal dominant inheritance, muscular dystrophy, myotonia, and multisystem involvement. Type 1 DM (DM1) is caused by a (CTG)(n) expansion in the 3' untranslated region of DMPK in 19q13.3. Multiple families, predominantly of German descent and with clinically variable presentation that included proximal myotonic myopathy (PROMM) and type 2 DM (DM2) but without the DM1 mutation, showed linkage to the 3q21 region and were recently shown to segregate a (CCTG)(n) expansion mutation in intron 1 of ZNF9. Here, we present linkage to 3q21 and mutational confirmation in 17 kindreds of European origin with PROMM and proximal myotonic dystrophy, from geographically distinct populations. All patients have the DM2 (CCTG)(n) expansion. To study the evolution of this mutation, we constructed a comprehensive physical map of the DM2 region around ZNF9. High-resolution haplotype analysis of disease chromosomes with five microsatellite and 22 single-nucleotide polymorphism markers around the DM2 mutation identified extensive linkage disequilibrium and a single shared haplotype of at least 132 kb among patients from the different populations. With the exception of the (CCTG)(n) expansion, the available markers indicate that the DM2 haplotype is identical to the most common haplotype in normal individuals. This situation is reminiscent of that seen in DM1. Taken together, these data suggest a single founding mutation in DM2 patients of European origin. We estimate the age of the founding haplotype and of the DM2 (CCTG) expansion mutation to be approximately 200-540 generations.