Genetic mapping has indicated that meiotic recombination occurs about 4 time more frequently in the dystrophin gene than expected on the basis of its length. To detect where recombinations occur within the gene, we have studied the CEPH families panel using highly polymorphic microsatellite markers located at the ends of the gene or flanking the major deletion hot spot in intron 44. We found a major hot spot of recombination between markers STR44 and STR50(1), i.e., between exons 44 and 51. Within this hot spot, a peak of recombination was located in the large intron 44. A second minor recombination prone region was found between DXS 206, (XJ, in the large intron 7) and the 5' end of the DMD gene. The distribution of the recombination events in the gene of healthy individuals was very similar to that of deletion breakpoints in DMD/BMD patients, suggesting that the two phenomenon may share a common mechanism. These results should also improve efficiency and accuracy of linkage analysis applied to carrier detection and prenatal diagnosis. In particular, if markers located at the very 3' end of the gene are not informative, the highly polymorphic ones located between exons 50 and 60 can be used instead of presently available extragenic markers, with a very low risk of diagnostic error due to recombination.