A single gene (Prn-i) that affects scrapie incubation period in mice has been identified. I/LnJ mice have a very long incubation period after inoculation of scrapie prions (200-385 days) and NZW/LacJ mice have a short one (113 +/- 2.8 days). (NZW X I/Ln)F1 hybrid mice had incubation times of 223 +/- 2.8 days indicating longer incubation times were dominant. Incubation periods in the backcross progeny of (NZW/LacJ X I/LnJ)F1 X NZW/LacJ segregated into two groups (64 mice, 130 +/- 1.1 d; 66 mice, 195 +/- 1.9 d) indicating single gene control. NZW/LacJ and 20 other inbred strains have the Prn-pa allele which is identified as a 3.8 kb Xbal fragment using a hamster PrP (prion protein) cDNA probe. I/LnJ and three other Prn-pb mouse strains have a 5.5 kb Xbal restriction fragment. Analysis of DNA from 66 backcross mice indicated Prn-i is tightly linked to Prn-p, the structural gene for PrP.