Familial predisposition to basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin are apparent in the autosomal dominant syndromes naevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (NBCCS) and multiple self-healing squamous epitheliomata (MSSE) respectively. The gene responsible for NBCCS has been proposed to be a tumour-suppressor gene and is mapped to the same 2 Mb interval on 9q22.3 as the MSSE gene ESS1. In an attempt to further map the NBCCS gene, we have examined loss of heterozygosity (LOH) in 16 sporadic BCCs and two familial BCCs using microsatellite markers located within the candidate gene region. The overall frequency of LOH observed was 67% in the BCCs and partial or interstitial deletions were found in eight tumours, with the highest LOH frequency at markers D9S280, D9S287 and D9S180. To determine if the same genomic region also shows frequent LOH in tumours with a squamous phenotype, we have examined 11 SCCs, four actinic keratoses and 13 cases of Bowen's disease for LOH at 9q22.3. An overall LOH frequency of 50% was observed at D9S180, and occurred in all types of squamous tumours. In contrast, a much lower LOH frequency of only 6% was found at the D9S287 locus. Our observation of different patterns of LOH at 9q22.3 in sporadic BCCs and SCCs implies that more than one tumour-suppressor gene might be located in this genomic region.