The angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) gene (17q23) is a candidate gene for essential hypertension and related diseases, but investigation of its role in human pathology is hampered by a lack of identified polymorphisms. Currently, a 287-bp insertion/deletion (I/D) RFLP in intron 16 represents the only one known. Additional polymorphisms for the ACE gene would make most families informative for linkage studies and would allow haplotypes to be assigned in association studies. To increase the information provided by the ACE gene, we used a sensitive screening technique, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) blots, to identify polymorphisms and combined this with gene counting to identify haplotypes. Five independent polymorphisms, restriction fragment melting polymorphisms (RFMPs), were identified by four probes (encompassing half of the ACE cDNA) in digests produced by three restriction enzymes (DdeI, RsaI, and AluI). One RFMP has three alleles while the others have two alleles. In a sample of 67 unrelated control subjects, minor allele frequencies ranged from 0.12 to 0.49. A significant level of linkage disequilibrium was found for all pairs of markers. The four most informative RFMPs, taken in combination, define 24 potential haplotypes. Based on gene counting, 11 of the 24 are rare or nonexistent in this population, and the estimated heterozygosity of the remaining 13 haplotypes approaches 80%. Under these conditions for the ACE locus, phase-unknown genotypes could be assigned to haplotype pairs in unrelated subjects with reasonable certainty. Thus, using DGGE blot technique for identifying numerous DNA polymorphisms in a candidate locus, in combination with gene counting, one can often identify DNA haplotypes for both related and unrelated study subjects at a candidate locus. These markers in the ACE gene should be useful for clinical and epidemiologic studies of the role of ACE in human disease.