A physical map of the 952 kbp chromosome of Borrelia burgdorferi Sh-2-82 has been constructed. Eighty-three intervals on the chromosome, defined by the cleavage sites of 15 restriction enzymes, are delineated. The intervals vary in size from 96 kbp to a few hundred bp, with an average size of 11.5 kbp. A striking feature of the map is its linearity; no other bacterial groups are known to have linear chromosomes. The two ends of the chromosome do not hybridize with one another, indicating that there are no large common terminal regions. The chromosome of this strain was found to be stable in culture; passage 6, 165 and 320 cultures have identical chromosomal restriction maps. We have positioned all previously known Borrelia burgdorferi chromosomal genes and several newly identified ones on this map. These include the gyrA/gyrB/dnaA/dnaN gene cluster, the rRNA gene cluster, fla, flgE, groEL (hsp60), recA, the rho/hip cluster, the dnaK (hsp70)/dnaJ/grpE cluster, the pheT/pheS cluster, and the genes which encode the potent immunogen proteins p22A, p39 and p83. Our electrophoretic analysis detects five linear and at least two circular plasmids in B. burgdorferi Sh-2-82. We have constructed a physical map of the 53 kbp linear plasmid and located the operon that encodes the two major outer surface proteins ospA and ospB on this plasmid. Because of the absence of functional genetic tools for this organism, these maps will serve as a basis for future mapping, cloning and sequencing studies of B. burgdorferi.