Papillon-Lefevre syndrome is an autosomal recessively inherited palmoplantar keratoderma of unknown aetiology associated with severe periodontitis leading to premature loss of dentition. Three consanguineous families, two of Turkish and one of German origin, and three multiplex families, one of Ethiopian and two of German origin, with 11 affected and 6 unaffected siblings in all were studied. A targeted genome search was initially attempted to several candidate gene regions but failed to demonstrate linkage. Therefore a genome-wide linkage scan using a combination of homozygosity mapping and traditional linkage analysis was undertaken. Linkage was obtained with marker D11S937 with a maximum two-point lod score of Z(max) = 6.1 at recombination fraction θ = 0.00 on chromosome 11q14-q21 near the metalloproteinase gene cluster. Multipoint likelihood calculations gave a maximum lod score of 7.35 between D11S901 and D11S1358. A 9.2-cM region homozygous by descent in the affected members of the three consanguineous families lies between markers D11S1989 and D11S4176 harbouring the as yet unknown Papillon-Lefevre syndrome gene. Haplotype analyses in all the families studied support this localisation. This study has identified a further locus harbouring a gene for palmoplantar keratoderma and one possibly involved in periodontitis.