A total of 391 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers designed from genomic DNA libraries, 24 derived from existing GenBank genes or ESTs, and five derived from bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) end sequences were developed. In contrast to SSRs derived from EST sequences, those derived from genomic libraries were a superior source of polymorphic markers, given that the mean number of tandem repeats in the former was significantly less than that of the latter ( P<0.01). The 420 newly developed SSRs were mapped in one or more of five soybean mapping populations: "Minsoy" x "Noir 1", "Minsoy" x "Archer", "Archer" x "Noir 1", "Clark" x "Harosoy", and A81-356022 x PI468916. The JoinMap software package was used to combine the five maps into an integrated genetic map spanning 2,523.6 cM of Kosambi map distance across 20 linkage groups that contained 1,849 markers, including 1,015 SSRs, 709 RFLPs, 73 RAPDs, 24 classical traits, six AFLPs, ten isozymes, and 12 others. The number of new SSR markers added to each linkage group ranged from 12 to 29. In the integrated map, the ratio of SSR marker number to linkage group map distance did not differ among 18 of the 20 linkage groups; however, the SSRs were not uniformly spaced over a linkage group, clusters of SSRs with very limited recombination were frequently present. These clusters of SSRs may be indicative of gene-rich regions of soybean, as has been suggested by a number of recent studies, indicating the significant association of genes and SSRs. Development of SSR markers from map-referenced BAC clones was a very effective means of targeting markers to marker-scarce positions in the genome.