Prostate cancer is a complex disease with a substantial genetic contribution involved in the disease risk. Several genomewide linkage studies conducted so far have demonstrated a strong heterogeneity of susceptibility. In order to assess candidate regions that are particularly relevant for the German population, we performed a genomewide linkage search on 139 prostate cancer families. A nonparametric method (Zlr scores), using GENEHUNTERPLUS, was applied at 500 markers (panel P1400, deCODE), with an average spacing of 7.25 cM. In the entire family collection, linkage was most evident at 8p22 (Zlr=2.47, P=0.0068), close to the previously identified susceptibility gene MSR1. Further local maxima with Zlr>2 (P<0.025) were observed at 1q, 5q and 15q. In a subgroup of 47 families, which matched the Johns Hopkins criteria of hereditary prostate cancer, suggestive linkage was found on 1p31 (Zlr=3.37, P=0.00038), a previously not described candidate region. The remaining 92 pedigrees, with no strong disease history, revealed a maximum Zlr=3.15 (P=0.00082) at 8q13, possibly indicating a gene with reduced penetrance or recessive inheritance. Our results suggest pronounced locus heterogeneity of prostate cancer susceptibility in Germany. In the present study population, the MSR1 gene could play a significant role. Other conspicuous loci, like 1p31 and 8q13, need further investigation in order to verify their relevance and to identify candidate genes.