A comprehensive linkage map of the chicken genome has been developed by segregation analysis of 430 microsatellite markers within a cross between two extreme broiler lines. The population used to construct the linkage map consists of 10 families with a total of 458 F2 individuals. The number of informative meioses per marker varied from 100 to 900 with an average of 400. The markers were placed into 27 autosomal linkage groups and a Z-chromosome-specific linkage group. In addition, 6 markers were unlinked, 1 of which was Z chromosome specific. The coverage within linkage groups is 3062 cM. Although, as in other species, the genetic map of the heterogametic sex (female) is shorter than the genetic map of the homogametic sex (male), the overall difference in length is small (1.15%). Forty-five of the markers represent identified genes or ESTs. Database homology searches with the anonymous markers resulted in the identification of a further 9 genes, bringing the total number of genes/ESTs on the current map to 54. The mapping of these genes led to the identification of two new regions of conserved synteny between human and chicken and confirmed other previously identified regions of conserved synteny between human and chicken. The linkage map has 210 markers in common with the linkage maps based on the East Lansing and Compton reference populations, and most of the corresponding linkage groups in the different maps can be readily aligned.