Strong linkage disequilibrium occurs between the cystic fibrosis (CF) locus and polymorphisms detected with the DNA probes XV-2c and KM-19. In a North American population, 86% of CF chromosomes occur with a haplotype which occurs on only 14% of normal chromosomes. An individual homozygous for the highest-risk haplotype has an 81-fold greater probability of carrying a CF allele than does an individual homozygous for the lowest-risk haplotype. The linkage-disequilibrium data can be used for prenatal diagnosis and genetic counseling in CF families. The data are useful in 1-in-4-risk pregnancies when DNA is not available from the propositus and in counseling close relatives of CF families. Serious problems arise with some pregnancies which remain at intermediate risks after analysis, and families are left with difficult decisions. It is not clear that genetic testing for couples at less than 1-in-4 risk is cost-effective or standard care, but use of linkage-disequilibrium data will provide more accurate risk probabilities in a substantial proportion of cases if such testing is carried out. Our results emphasize the need for a specific biological or molecular carrier test. This experience in using linkage-disequilibrium and linkage data in combination for genetic counseling provides a model system for the diagnosis of other disorders.