Alagille syndrome is a clinically defined, dominantly inherited disorder affecting the liver, heart, face, eye, and vertebrae. Alagille syndrome has previously been localized to the short arm of chromosome 20, on the basis of reports of a small number of patients with chromosomal deletions of 20p. We undertook a cytogenetic study of patients with Alagille syndrome and identified a family in which a cytologically balanced translocation between chromosomes 2 and 20, 46,XX/XY, t(2;20)(q21.3;p12), is segregating concordantly with the disease. The breakpoint on chromosome 20p in this t(2;20) is consistent with the shortest region of overlap demonstrated in the reported deletion patients. This is the first report of a translocation associated with 20p and Alagille syndrome, and this rearrangement confirms the location of the Alagille disease gene at 20p12. We have established a somatic cell hybrid from a lymphoblastoid cell line from one of the affected individuals that contains the derivative chromosome 20 (20qter-->p12::2q21.3-->qter) but not the derivative chromosome 2, the normal chromosome 2, or the normal chromosome 20. Southern blot and PCR analysis of probes and sequences from 20p have been studied to define the location of the translocation breakpoint. Our results show that the breakpoint lies distal to D20S61 and D20S56 within band 20p12.