Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is a slowly progressive primary disease of muscle which is usually inherited as an autosomal dominant disorder. FSHD has been localized to the long arm of chromosome 4, specifically to the 4q3.5-qter region. Initially published linkage studies showed no evidence for heterogeneity in FSHD. In the present study we have examined individuals in seven FSHD families. Two-point lod scores show significant evidence for linkage for D4S163 (lod score 3.04 at recombination fraction .21) and D4S139 (lod score 3.84 at recombination fraction .20). D4S171 also gave a positive score (lod score 2.56 at recombination fraction .24). Significant evidence for heterogeneity was found for each of the three markers. Multipoint linkage analysis in this region resulted in a peak multipoint lod score of 6.47. The multipoint analysis supported the two-point studies with odds of 20:1 showing linkage and heterogeneity over linkage and homogeneity. Five of the seven families gave a posterior probability of > 95% of being of the linked type, while two families appeared unlinked to this region of 4q (P < .01%). Individuals in the two unlinked families met the clinical criteria for the diagnosis of FSHD, including facial weakness, clavicular flattening, scapula winging, proximal muscle weakness, and myopathic changes on muscle biopsies without inflammatory or mitochondrial pathology. This study demonstrates genetic heterogeneity in FSHD and has important implications for both genetic counseling and the elucidation of the etiology of FSHD.