We present a Monte Carlo approach to estimation of the recombination fraction theta and the profile likelihood for a dichotomous trait and a single marker gene with 2 alleles. The method is an application of a technique known as 'Gibbs sampling', in which random samples of each of the unknowns (here genotypes, theta and nuisance parameters, including the allele frequencies and the penetrances) are drawn from their posterior distributions, given the data and the current values of all the other unknowns. Upon convergence, the resulting samples derive from the marginal distribution of all the unknowns, given only the data, so that the uncertainty in the specification of the nuisance parameters is reflected in the variance of the posterior distribution of theta. Prior knowledge about the distribution of theta and the nuisance parameters can be incorporated using a Bayesian approach, but adoption of a flat prior for theta and point priors for the nuisance parameters would correspond to the standard likelihood approach. The method is easy to program, runs quickly on a microcomputer, and could be generalized to multiple alleles, multipoint linkage, continuous phenotypes and more complex models of disease etiology. The basic approach is illustrated by application to data on cholesterol levels and an a low-density lipoprotein receptor gene in a single large pedigree.