A colony-level phenotype was used to map the major sex determination locus (designated X) in the honey bee (Apis mellifera). Individual queen bees (reproductive females) were mated to single drones (fertile males) by instrumental insemination. Haploid drone progeny of an F1 queen were each backcrossed to daughter queens from one of the parental lines. Ninety-eight of the resulting colonies containing back-cross progeny were evaluated for the trait 'low brood-viability' resulting from the production of diploid drones that were homozygous at X. DNA samples from the haploid drone fathers of these colonies were used individually in polymerase chain reactions (PCR) with 10-base primers. These reactions generated random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers that were analyzed for cosegregation with the colony-level phenotype. One RAPD marker allele was shared by 22 of 25 drones that fathered low brood-viability colonies. The RAPD marker fragment was cloned and partially sequenced. Two primers were designed that define a sequence-tagged site (STS) for this locus. The primers amplified DNA marker fragments that cosegregated with the original RAPD marker. In order to more precisely estimate the linkage between X and the STS locus, another group of bees consisting of progeny from one of the low-brood viability colonies was used in segregation analysis. Four diploid drones and 181 of their diploid sisters (workers, nonfertile females) were tested for segregation of the RAPD and STS markers. The cosegregating RAPD and STS markers were codominant due to the occurrence of fragment-length alleles. The four diploid drones were homozygous for these markers but only three of the 181 workers were homozygotes (recombinants). Therefore the distance between X and the STS locus was estimated at 1.6 cM. An additional linked marker was found that was 6.6 cM from the STS locus.