Usher syndrome (US) is an autosomal recessive disease characterized by congenital hearing impairment and retinitis pigmentosa. It is the most frequent cause of deaf-blindness in adults and accounts for 3 to 6% of deaf children. Here, we report the genetic mapping of a gene for US type I (USH1A), the most severe form of the disease, to the long arm of chromosome 14, by linkage to probe MLJ14 at the D14S13 locus in 10 families of Western France ancestry (Z = 4.13 at theta = 0). Among them, 8 families originated from a small area of the Poitou-Charentes region (Z = 3.78 at theta = 0), suggesting that a founder effect could be involved. However, since not all US type I families were found to be linked to this locus, the present study provides evidence for genetic heterogeneity of this condition (heterogeneity versus homogeneity test HOMOG, P < 0.05; heterogeneity versus no linkage, P < 0.01).