Dactylaplasia is an inherited mouse limb malformation whose manifestation is clearly dependent on the interaction of two genes and thus represents an excellent model system for studying such gene interactions in vivo. The Dac mutation is inherited as a semidominant trait and may be a model for some forms of human ectrodactyly. Heterozygotes show absence of digits on each foot; the long bones are normal. On the SM/Ckc background on which the mutation occurred, Dac homozygotes die around birth. We mapped Dac to the distal end of Chr 19 by backcross segregation analysis A closely linked marker was then used to distinguish +/+, Dac/+, and Dac/Dac genotypes of embryos and adults. When intercrossed with the NZB/BINJ strain, Dac homozygotes were shown to be viable and fertile, but had a more severe limb malformation (only a single remaining digit) than heterozygotes. Expression of the abnormal limb phenotypes of Dac/+ and Dac/Dac mice also depends on homozygosity for a recessive allele of another unlinked gene, mdac, that is polymorphic among inbred mouse strains. We mapped mdac to the middle of Chr 13 by segregation analysis of both recombinant inbred strains and backcross progeny.