Cattle microsatellite clones (136) were isolated from cosmid (10) and plasmid (126) libraries and sequenced. The dinucleotide repeats were studied in each of these sequences and compared with dinucleotide repeats found in other vertebrate species where information was available. The distribution in cattle was similar to that described for other mammals, such as rat, mouse, pig, or human. A major difference resides in the number of sequences present in the bovine genome, which seemed at best one-third as large as in other species. Oligonucleotide primers (117 pairs) were synthesized, and a PCR product of expected size was obtained for 88 microsatellite sequences (75%). Synteny or chromosome assignment was searched for each locus with PCR amplification on a panel of 36 hamster/bovine somatic cell hybrids. Of our bovine microsatellites, eighty-six could be assigned to synteny groups of chromosomes. In addition, 10 other microsatellites--HEL 5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13 (Kaukinen and Varvio 1993), HEL 4, 7, 14, 15--as well as the microsatellite found in the kappa-casein gene (Fries et al. 1990) were mapped on the hybrids. Microsatellite polymorphism was checked on at least 30 unrelated animals of different breeds. Almost all the autosomal and X Chr microsatellites displayed polymorphism, with the number of alleles varying between two and 44. We assume that these microsatellites could be very helpful in the construction of a primary public linkage map of the bovine genome, with an aim of finding markers for Economic Trait Loci (ETL) in cattle.