Pseudo-vitamin D-deficiency rickets (PDDR) was mapped close to D12S90 and between proximal D12S312 and distal (D12S305, D12S104) microsatellites that were subsequently found on a single YAC clone. Analysis of a complex haplotype in linkage disequilibrium (LD) with the disease discriminated among distinct founder effects in French Canadian populations in Acadia and in Charlevoix-Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean (Ch-SLSJ), as well as an earlier one in precolonial Europe. A simple demographic model suggested the historical age of the founder effect in Ch-SLSJ to be approximately 12 generations. The corresponding LD data are consistent with this figure when they are analyzed within the framework of Luria-Delbrück model, which takes into account the population growth. Population sampling due to a limited number of first settlers and the rapid demographic expansion appear to have played a major role in the founding of PDDR in Ch-SLSJ and, presumably, other genetic disorders endemic to French Canada. Similarly, the founder effect in Ashkenazim, coinciding with their early settlement in medieval Poland and subsequent expansion eastward, could explain the origin of frequent genetic diseases in this population.