Tourette syndrome (TS) is a genetically complex disorder for which no causative genes have been unequivocally identified. Nevertheless, a number of molecular genetic studies have investigated several candidate genes, particularly those implicated in dopamine modulation. The results of these studies were inconclusive, which may be due, at least in part, to the variable ethnicity of the patients included in different studies and the chosen research design. In this study, we used a family-based association approach to investigate the implication of dopamine-related candidate genes, which had been previously reported as possibly associated with TS [genes that encode for the dopamine receptors DRD2, DRD3 and DRD4, the dopamine transporter 1 (SLC6A3) and the monoamine oxidase-A (MAO-A). The studied group was composed of 110 TS patients. These patients were selected from the French Canadian population, which displays a founder effect. Excess transmission of the 7-repeat allele of the DRD4 exon-3 VNTR polymorphism (chi(2) TDT =4.93, 1 df, P=0.026) and the putative 'high-activity' alleles of the MAO-A promoter VNTR polymorphism (chi(2) TDT =7.124, 1 df P=0.0076) were observed. These results were confirmed in a subgroup of patients with no attention deficit/hyperactivity or obsessive compulsive comorbid disorders. Haplotype analysis using one or two supplemental polymorphism in each of these genes confirmed these associations and allowed one to identify risk haplotypes. No associations were found for DRD2, DRD3 or SLC6A3. These data support the notion that DRD4 and MOA-A genes may confer an increased risk for developing TS in the French Canadian population.