Deployment of salt tolerant cultivars is an effective approach to minimize yield loss in a saline soil. In soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr., substantial genetic variation exists for salt response. However, breeding for salt tolerance is hampered because no economically viable screening method has been developed for practical breeding. To facilitate the development of an effective screening method for salt tolerance in soybean, the present study was conducted to determine the heritability of salt tolerance and to identify associated quantitative trait loci (QTL). F2:5 lines from the cross of 'S-100' (salt tolerant) x 'Tokyo' (salt sensitive) were evaluated in a saline field in Hyde County, N.C., USA, in 1999 and in a greenhouse located in Raleigh, N.C., USA, in 2001. S-100 and Tokyo are ancestors of popular soybean cultivars released for the southern USA. The visual salt tolerance ratings of the F2:5 lines ranged from 0 (complete death) to 5 (normal healthy appearance). The entry-mean heritability for salt tolerance was 0.85, 0.48, and 0.57 in the field (four replications), greenhouse (two replications), and combined environments, respectively. The genotypic correlation between field and greenhouse ratings was 0.55, indicating reasonably good agreement between the two screening environments. To identify QTL associated with salt tolerance, each line was characterized with RFLP markers and an initial QTL single-factor analysis was completed. These results were used to identify genomic regions associated with the trait and to saturate the selected genomic regions with SSR markers to improve mapping precision. Subsequently, a major QTL for salt tolerance was discovered near the Sat_091 SSR marker on linkage group (LG) N, accounting for 41, 60, and 79% of the total genetic variation for salt tolerance in the field, greenhouse, and combined environments, respectively. The QTL allele associated with tolerance was derived from S-100. Pedigree tracking was used to examine the association between the salt tolerance QTL and flanking SSR marker alleles in U.S. cultivars descended from S-100 or Tokyo through 60 years of breeding. The presence of alleles from S-100 at the Sat_091 and Satt237 marker loci was always associated with salt tolerance in descendants. Alleles from Tokyo for these same markers were generally associated with salt sensitivity in descendent cultivars. The strong relationship between the SSR marker alleles and salt tolerance suggests that these markers could be used for marker-assisted selection in commercial breeding.