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Genetic linkage analysis has been used to study five Icelandic pedigrees multiply affected with manic depression. Genetic markers were chosen from regions which had been implicated by other studies or to which candidate genes had been localized. The transmission model used was of a dominant gene with incomplete penetrance and allowing for a large number of phenocopies, especially for unipolar rather than bipolar cases. Multipoint analysis with linked markers enabled information to be gained from regions spanning large distances. Using this approach we have excluded regions of chromosome 11p, 11q, 8q, 5q, 9q and Xq. Candidate genes excluded include those for tyrosine hydroxylase, the dopamine type 2 receptor, proenkephalin, the 5HT1A receptor and dopamine beta hydroxylase. Nevertheless, we remain optimistic that this approach will eventually identify at least some of the genes predisposing to manic depression.