If loci are randomly distributed on a physical map, the density of markers on a genetic map will be inversely proportional to recombination rate. First, proposed by Mary Lyon, we have used this idea to estimate recombination rates from the Drosophila melanogaster linkage map. These results were compared with results of two other studies that estimated regional recombination rates in D. melanogaster using both physical and genetic maps. The three methods were largely concordant in identifying large-scale genomic patterns of recombination. The marker density method was then applied to the Mus musculus microsatellite linkage map. The distribution of microsatellites provided evidence for heterogeneity in recombination rates. Centromeric regions for several mouse chromosomes had significantly greater numbers of markers than expected, suggesting that recombination rates were lower in these regions. In contrast, most telomeric regions contained significantly fewer markers than expected. This indicates that recombination rates are elevated at the telomeres of many mouse chromosomes and is consistent with a comparison of the genetic and cytogenetic maps in these regions. The density of markers on a genetic map may provide a generally useful way to estimate regional recombination rates in species for which genetic, but not physical, maps are available.