Ripening represents a complex developmental process unique to plants. We are using tomato fruit ripening mutants as tools to understand the regulatory components that control and coordinate the physiological and biochemical changes which collectively confer the ripe phenotype. We have genetically characterized two loci which result in significant inhibition of the ripening process in tomato, ripening-inhibitor (rin), and non-ripening (nor), as a first step toward isolating genes likely to encode key regulators of this developmental process. A combination of pooled-sample mapping as well as classical restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis has permitted the construction of high-density genetic maps for the regions of chromosomes 5 and 10 spanning the rin and nor loci, respectively. To assess the feasibility of initiating a chromosome walk, physical mapping of high molecular weight genomic DNA has been employed to estimate the relationship between physical distance (in kb) and genetic distance (in cM) around the targeted loci. Based on this analysis, the relationship in the region spanning the rin locus is estimated to be 200-300 kb/cM, while the nor locus region ratio is approximately 200 kb/1 cM. Using RFLP markers tightly linked to rin and nor, chromosome walks have been initiated to both loci in a yeast artificial chromosome (YAC) library of tomato genomic DNA. We have isolated and characterized several YAC clones linked to each of the targeted ripening loci and present genetic evidence that at least one YAC clone contains the nor locus.