Familial isolated hyperparathyroidism (FIHP) is a rare heritable disorder characterized by hypercalcemia, inappropriately high PTH levels, and isolated parathyroid tumors with no evidence of hyperfunction of any other endocrine tissues. To establish whether FIHP exists as a distinct disease entity or represents a variant of any of the known multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndromes, we tested 19 members of a large, well characterized family with FIHP in which the disease is transmitted through 4 generations in an autosomal dominant fashion. Fourteen DNA markers at 10 polymorphic loci closely linked to the MEN1 locus on the long arm of chromosome 11 and 5 markers close to the MEN2A gene on chromosome 10 were tested using Southern blot analysis and polymerase chain reaction-based techniques. Additionally, two polymorphic markers (Mir1 and Mir2) within the prepro-PTH gene on the short arm of chromosome 11 were analyzed using denaturant gradient gel electrophoresis. Linkage was clearly excluded between FIHP and the MEN1 and MEN2A loci as well as to the PTH gene. Comparison of constitutional and tumor genotypes showed that constitutional heterozygosity was retained for markers in the MEN1 and MEN2A regions as well as to the PTH gene in 4 tumors from 3 affected members. In 1 individual, a parathyroid carcinoma was found after recurrence of hypercalcemia. We, therefore, propose that autosomal dominant FIHP can occur as a genetically and clinically distinct entity with an increased risk of malignant transformation of parathyroid tumors.