Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) is complex and heterogeneous. The numerous susceptibility loci that have been identified reaffirm the complexity of PD but do not fully explain it; e.g., it is not known if any given PD susceptibility gene is associated with all PD or a disease subtype. We also suspect that important disease genes may have escaped detection because of this heterogeneity. We used presence/absence of family history to subdivide the cases and performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in Sporadic-PD and Familial-PD separately. The aim was to uncover new genes and gain insight into the genetic architecture of PD.Results: Employing GWAS on the NeuroGenetics Research Consortium (NGRC) dataset stratified by family history (1565 Sporadic-PD, 435 Familial-PD, 1986 controls), we identified a novel locus on chromosome 1p21 in Sporadic-PD (PNGRC = 4×10-8) and replicated the finding (PReplication = 6×10-3; PPooled = 4×10-10) in 1528 Sporadic-PD and 796 controls from the National Institutes of Neurologic Disease and Stroke (NINDS) Repository. This is the fifth PD locus to be mapped to the short arm of chromosome 1. It is flanked by S1PR1 and OLFM3 genes, and is 200 kb from a multiple sclerosis susceptibility gene. The second aim of the study was to extend the stratified GWAS to the well-established PD genes. SNCA_ rs356220 was associated with both Sporadic-PD (OR = 1.37, P = 1×10-9) and Familial-PD (OR = 1.40, P = 2×10-5). HLA_rs3129882 was more strongly associated with Sporadic-PD (OR = 1.38, P = 5×10-10) than Familial-PD (OR = 1.12, P = 0.15). In the MAPT region, virtually every single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) had a stronger effect-size and lower P-value in Familial-PD (peak P = 8×10-7) than in Sporadic-PD (peak P = 2×10-5).Conclusions: We discovered and replicated a new locus for Sporadic-PD which had escaped detection in un-stratified GWAS. This demonstrates that by stratifying on a key variable the power gained due to diminished heterogeneity can sometimes outweigh the power lost to reduced sample size. We also detected distinct patterns of disease associations for previously established PD susceptibility genes, which gives an insight to the genetic architecture of the disease and could aid in the selection of appropriate study population for future studies. © 2014 Hill-Burns et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.