Similarities in biochemical findings have suggested that Salla disease (SD) and the infantile form of sialic acid storage disease (ISSD) could represent allelic disorders, despite their drastically different clinical phenotypes. SD and ISSD are both characterized by lysosomal storage of free N-acetyl neuraminic acid. However, in SD the increase detected in urine is 8-24-fold, whereas in ISSD the corresponding amount is 20-50-fold and patients are also more severely affected. Here we report linkage studies in 50 Finnish SD families and 26 non-Finnish families with no genealogical connections to Finns affected either with the Finnish type of SD, the "intermediate" form of the disease, or ISSD. All forms of the disease show linkage to the same locus on 6q14-q15. Haplotype analyses of Finnish SD chromosomes revealed one common haplotype, which was also seen in most of the non-Finnish patients with Finnish type of SD. This ancestral haplotype deviated from those observed in ISSD patients, who had a different common haplotype.