Radiation hybrid (RH) mapping, a somatic cell genetic technique, was developed as a general approach for constructing long-range maps of mammalian chromosomes. This statistical method depends on x-ray breakage of chromosomes to determine the distances between DNA markers, as well as their order on the chromosome. In addition, the method allows the relative likelihoods of alternative marker orders to be determined. The RH procedure was used to map 14 DNA probes from a region of human chromosome 21 spanning 20 megabase pairs. The map was confirmed by pulsed-field gel electrophoretic analysis. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of RH mapping for constructing high-resolution, contiguous maps of mammalian chromosomes.