Variant late infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (vLINCL) is an autosomal recessive progressive encephalopathy of childhood enriched in the western part of Finland, with a local incidence of 1 in 1500. We recently assigned the locus for vLINCL, CLN5, to 13q21.1-q32. In the present study, the haplotype analysis of Finnish CLN5 chromosomes provides evidence that one single mutation causes vLINCL in the Finnish population. Eight microsatellite markers closely linked to the CLN5 gene on chromosome 13q were analyzed, to study identity by descent by shared haplotype analysis. One single haplotype formed by flanking markers D13S160 and D13S162 in strong linkage disequilibrium (P < .0001) was present in 81% of disease-bearing chromosomes. Allele 4 at the marker locus D13S162 was detected in 94% of disease-bearing chromosomes. To evaluate the age of the CLN5 mutation by virtue of its restricted geographical distribution, church records were used to identify the common ancestors for 18 vLINCL families diagnosed in Finland. The pedigrees of the vLINCL ancestors merged on many occasions, which also supports a single founder mutation that obviously happened 20 to 30 generations ago (i.e., approximately 500 years ago) in this isolated population. Linkage disequilibrium was detected with seven markers covering an extended genetic distance of 11 cM, which further supports the young age of the CLN5 mutation. When the results of genealogical and linkage disequilibrium studies were combined, the CLN5 gene was predicted to lie approximately 200 - 400 kb (total range 30 - 1360 kb) from the closest marker D13S162.