Observed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) familial clustering and increased monozygotic twin concordance has led to the hypothesis that genetic loci containing IBD susceptibility genes can be identified by whole genome linkage mapping approaches. Methodology including collecting carefully phenotyped multiplex pedigrees, genotyping using highly informative microsatellite markers and linkage analysis by non-parametric allele sharing methods has been established. Eleven published genome wide screens (GWS) have studied more than 1,200 multiplex IBD pedigrees. Two-thirds of affected relative pairs were Crohn's disease (CD), 20% ulcerative colitis (UC) and the remaining were mixed. Seven loci (IBDI-7) on chromosomes 16q, 12, 6p, 14q, 5q, 19, and 1p have been identified with genome wide significant and independently replicated linkage. Risk alleles/haplotypes have been defined for the IBD1 (CARD15/NOD2), IBD3 (HLA) and IBD5 (5q cytokine cluster) loci. There has been evidence for a second chromosome 16 locus (IBD8) independent of NOD2 that overlaps IBD1 on the pericentromeric p-arm. Several other regions show great promise for containing additional IBD loci, particularly chromosome 3p with genome wide evidence in one study at 3p26 and more centromeric evidence in several other studies, and chromosomes 2q, 3q, 4q, 7, 11p, and Xp each with suggestive evidence of linkage in one and additional evidence in two or more studies. Single GWSs and fine mapping studies containing very large sets of pedigrees and in particular, more UC pedigrees, and the use of creative analytic and disease stratification schemes are required to identify, establish and refine weaker IBD loci.