Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of chromosome arm 3p has been commonly observed in carcinomas of various tissues, including those of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). To determine the frequency and extent of allelic loss in NPC, we investigated 16 loci on chromosome bands 3p21-26 in 24 tumor tissues by microsatellite analysis. LOH on 3p21-26 was found in 16 of 24 (66.7%) tumors. The highest frequency of allelic loss was found in two adjacent loci, D3S1620 (11/22, 50%) and D3S1560 (9/18, 50%). Eight cases showed LOH in one contiguous region and 5 cases in more than one region. Samples 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 22 had a contiguous stretch of allelic loss between D3S1297 and D3S1597. The smallest common LOH/deletion region seems likely to lie between D3S1297 (3p26.3-26.2) and D3S1560 (3p25.3). The allelic loss map defined here will facilitate finer mapping of putative tumor suppressor gene loci and positional cloning of such genes, which may play a role in carcinogenesis of NPC.