We used molecular genetic techniques and multipoint linkage analyses to locate the gene responsible for cutaneous malignant melanoma-dysplastic nevus. We evaluated 99 relatives and 26 spouses in six families with a predisposition to melanoma. Thirty-four family members had cutaneous malignant melanoma, and 31 of these 34 also had histologically confirmed dysplastic nevi. Twenty-four family members had dysplastic nevi alone. An analysis of the cosegregation of the cutaneous malignant melanoma-dysplastic nevus trait with 26 polymorphic DNA markers on the short arm of chromosome 1 demonstrated the presence of a gene for susceptibility to melanoma. The gene was located between an anonymous DNA marker (D1S47) and the gene locus for pronatrodilatin, a commonly used reference gene (PND), in chromosome band 1p36. The odds were greater than 260,000:1 in favor of linkage at this location.