The neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCL) are a group of progressive neurodegenerative disorders characterized by the deposition of autofluorescent proteinaceous fingerprint or curvilinear bodies. We have found that CLN3, the gene underlying the juvenile form of NCL, is very tightly linked to the dinucleotide repeat marker D16S285 on chromosome 16. Integration of D16S285 into the genetic map of chromosome 16 by using the Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain panel of reference pedigrees yielded a favored marker order in the CLN3 region of qtel-D16S150-.08-D16S285-.04-D16S148-.02-D16S 67-ptel. The most likely location of the disease gene, near D16S285 in the D16S150-D16S148 interval, was favored by odds of greater than 10(4):1 over the adjacent D16S148-D16S67 interval, which was recently reported as the minimum candidate region. Analysis of D16S285 in pedigrees with late-infantile NCL virtually excluded the CLN3 region, suggesting that these two forms of NCL are genetically distinct.