We have recently assigned the facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) gene to chromome 4 by linkage to the microsatellite marker Mfd 22 (locus D4S171). We now report that D4S139, a VNTR locus, is much more closely linked to FSHD. Two-point linkage analysis between FSHD and D4S139 in nine informative families showed a maximum combined lod score (Zmax) of 17.28 at a recombination fraction theta of 0.027. Multipoint linkage analysis between FSHD and the loci D4S139 and D4S171 resulted in a peak lod score of 20.21 at 2.7 cM from D4S139. Due to the small number of recombinants found with D4S139, the position of the FSHD gene relative to that of D4S139 could not be established with certainty. D4S139 was mapped to chromosome 4q35-qter by in situ hybridization, thus firmly establishing the location of the FSHD gene in the subtelomeric region of chromosome 4q. One small family yielded a negative lod score for D4S139. In the other families no significant evidence for genetic heterogeneity was obtained. Studies of additional markers and new families will improve the map of the FSHD region, reveal possible genetic heterogeneity, and allow better diagnostic reliability.