In our effort to identify BRCA1, 22 genes were cloned from a 1-Mb region of chromosome 17q21 defined by meiotic recombinants in families with inherited breast and/or ovarian cancer. Subsequent discovery of another meiotic recombinant narrowed the region to approximately 650 kb. Genes were cloned from fibroblast and ovarian cDNA libraries by direct screening with YACs and cosmids. The more than 400 cDNA clones so identified were mapped to cosmids, YACs, and P1 clones and to a chromosome 17 somatic panel informative for the BRCA1 region. Clones that mapped back to the region were hybridized to each other and consolidated into clusters reflecting 22 genes. Ten genes were known human genes, 5 were human homologs of known genes, and 7 were novel. Each gene was sequenced, compared to genes in the databases to find homologies, and analyzed for mutations in BRCA1-linked families and tumors. Eight mutations were found in tumors or families and not in controls. In the gene encoding alpha-N-acetylglucosaminidase, approximately 100 kb proximal to the 650-kb linked region, somatic nonsense, missense, and splice junction mutations occurred in 3 breast tumors, but not in these patients' germline DNA nor in controls. In an ets-related oncogene in the linked region, a missense mutation cosegregated with breast cancer in one family and was not observed in controls. In a human homolog of a yeast pre-mRNA splicing factor, 3 different mutations cosegregated with breast cancer in 3 families and were not observed in controls. In these and the other genes in the region, 36 polymorphic variants were observed in both cases and controls.