Idiopathic torsion dystonia (ITD) is a neurological disorder characterized by sustained muscle contractions that appear as twisting movements of the limbs, trunk, and/or neck, which can progress to abnormal postures. Most familial forms of ITD follow autosomal dominant transmission with reduced penetrance. The frequency of ITD in the Ashkenazi Jewish population is five to ten times greater than that in other groups. Recently, a gene for ITD (DYT1) in a non-Jewish kindred was located on chromosome 9q32-34, with tight linkage to the gene encoding gelsolin (GSN). In the present study linkage analysis using DNA polymorphisms is used to locate a gene responsible for susceptibility to ITD in 12 Ashkenazi Jewish families. This dystonia gene exhibits close linkage with the gene encoding argininosuccinate synthetase (ASS), and appears by multipoint analysis to lie in the q32-34 region of chromosome 9, a region that also contains the loci for gelsolin and dopamine-beta-hydroxylase. The same gene may be responsible for ITD both in the non-Jewish kindred mentioned above and in the Ashkenazi Jewish families presented here. However, because there is substantial difference between the penetrance of the dominant allele in these two groups, two different mutations may be operating to produce susceptibility to this disease in the two groups.