The cost of experiments aimed at determining linkage between marker loci and quantitative trait loci (QTL) was investigated as a function of marker spacing and number of individuals scored. It was found that for a variety of experimental designs, fairly wide marker spacings (ca. 50 cM) are optimum or close to optimum for initial studies of marker-QTL linkage, in the sense of minimizing overall cost of the experiment. Thus, even when large numbers of more or less evenly spaced markers are available, it will not always be cost effective to make full utilization of this capacity. This is particularly true when costs of rearing and trait evaluation per individual scored are low, as when marker data are obtained on individuals raised and evaluated for quantitative traits as part of existing programs. When costs of rearing and trait evaluation per individual scored are high, however, as in human family data collection carried out primarily for subsequent marker - QTL analyses, or when plants or animals are raised specifically for purposes of marker - QTL linkage experiments, optimum spacing may be rather narrow. It is noteworthy that when marginal costs of additional markers or individuals are constant, total resources allocated to a given experiment will determine total number of individuals sampled, but not the optimal marker spacing.