A family of four genes that encode major secreted mucins (MUC6, MUC2, MUC5AC and MUC5B) map to within 400 kb on chromosome 11p15.5. These genes contain long stretches of tandem repeats of sequence that encode serine- and threonine-rich domains but that otherwise show no similarity from gene to gene, and regions of unique sequence domains that do show evidence of sequence homology. We have previously reported the existence of polymorphism in three of these genes but the extent and nature of this allelic variation is now described here in detail. Variable number tandem repeat polymorphisms of MUC6, MUC2 and MUC5AC are predicted to encode mucin polypeptides that differ in length. In the case of MUC2 and MUC6 these length differences are substantial (up to twofold). MUC5B in contrast does not show common allele length variation. Three MUC2 mutations are reported, none of which are associated with the meiotic recombinations previously observed in this region of chromosome 11.