In the Western world, chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) presents as two major clinical forms, Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) [Targan, S.R. and Shanahan, F. (1994). In Retford, D.C (ed.), Inflammatory Bowel Disease: From Bench to Bedside. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore]. Genetic epidemiological studies, the occurrence of rare syndromes associated with IBD, and animal models suggest that inherited factors play significant roles in the susceptibility to both forms of IBD [Yang, H.-Y. and Rotter, J.I. (1995) In Kirsner, J.B. and Shorter, R.G. (eds). Genetic Aspects of Idiopathic Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, pp.301-331]. Recently, a genome-wide search on European families with multiple affected members with CD identified a putative susceptibility locus in the centromeric region of chromosome 16 [Hugot, J.-P. et al. (1996) Nature, 379, 821-823]. We have now tested this region in an independent set of US families, confirmed that this region is likely to contain a gene predisposing to CD, and further refined the chromosomal location of this gene. Most importantly with respect to this locus, our data also seem to indicate that there is heterogeneity both within the CD group, and between the CD and UC groups with respect to this locus. The susceptibility locus appears to be involved only in non-Jewish CD sibpairs and not in our Ashkenazi Jewish CD sibpairs. Additionally, we have tested sibpairs having either only UC or both UC and CD for involvement of this locus, and have found no evidence that this region predisposes to IBD in these patients.