Sixty-two patients from three large Danish families with autosomal dominant optic atrophy were clinically examined, and retrospective follow-up was made on 30 patients. We found great inter-and intrafamiliar variation in visual acuity and visual decline. One hundred and seventy-five chromosomal markers were analyzed in 118 family members. Linkage was demonstrated between the disease gene (OPA1) and the microsatellite markers D3S1314, D3S1262, D3S1265 and D3S1601, with the highest Lod score to D3S1601 Z=11.75. All markers are located on chromosome 3q in the telomeric area, the most probable location for the OPA1 gene being D3S1601-OPA1-D3S1265. Using data from the Danish Family Register of Hereditary Eye Diseases, the minimum prevalence rate was estimated to 1:12.301, making DOA the most common hereditary optic atrophy.