Childhood absence epilepsy (CAE), a common form of idiopathic generalized epilepsy, accounts for 5%-15% of childhood epilepsies. To map the chromosomal locus of persisting CAE, we studied the clinical and electroencephalographic traits of 78 members of a five-generation family from Bombay, India. The model-free affected-pedigree member method was used during initial screening with chromosome 6p, 8q, and 1p microsatellites, and only individuals with absence seizures and/or electroencephalogram 3-4-Hz spike- and multispike-slow wave complexes were considered to be affected. Significant P values of .00000-.02 for several markers on 8q were obtained. Two-point linkage analysis, assuming autosomal dominant inheritance with 50% penetrance, yielded a maximum LOD score (Zmax) of 3.6 for D8S502. No other locus in the genome achieved a significant Zmax. For five smaller multiplex families, summed Zmax was 2.4 for D8S537 and 1.7 for D8S1761. Haplotypes composed of the same 8q24 microsatellites segregated with affected members of the large family from India and with all five smaller families. Recombinations positioned the CAE gene in a 3.2-cM interval.