Recent advances in gene mapping technologies have led to increased emphasis in developing representative genetic maps for several species, particularly domestic plants and animals. These maps are being compiled with two distinct goals: to provide a resource for genetic analysis, and to help dissect the evolution of genome organization by comparing linkage relationships of homologous genes. We propose here a list of 321 reference anchor loci suitable for comparative gene mapping in mammals and other vertebrate classes. We selected cloned mouse and human functional genes spaced an average of 5-10 centiMorgans throughout their respective genomes. We also attempted to include loci that are evolutionarily conserved and represented in comparative gene maps in other mammalian orders, particularly cattle and the domestic cat. We believe that the map may provide the basis for a unified approach to comparative analysis of mammalian species genomes.