The construction of highly integrated and annotated physical maps of human chromosomes represents a critical of the ongoing Human Genome Project. Our laboratory has focused on developing a physical map of human chromosome 7, a ~ 170-Mb segment of DNA that corresponds to an estimated 5% of the human genome. Using a yeast artificial chromosome (YAC)-based sequence-tagged site (STS)-content mapping strategy, 2150 chromosome 7-specific STSs have been established and mapped to a collection of YACs highly enriched for chromosome 7 DNA. The STSs correspond to sequences generated from a variety of DNA sources, with particular emphasis placed on YAC insert ends, genetic markers, and genes. The YACs include a set of relatively nonchimeric clones from a human-hamster hybrid cell line as well as clones isolated from total genomic libraries. For map integration, we have localized 260 STSs corresponding to Genethon genetic markers and 259 STSs corresponding to markers ordered by radiation hybrid (RH) mapping on our YAC contigs. Analysis of the data with the program SEGMAP results in the assembly of 22 contigs that are 'anchored' on the Genethon genetic map, the RH map, and/or the cytogenetic map. These 22 contigs are ordered relative to one another, are (in all but 3 cases) oriented relative to the centromere and telomeres, and contain > 98% of the mapped STSs. The largest anchored YAC contig, accounting for most of 7p, contains 634 STSs and 1260 YACs. An additional 14 contigs, accounting for ~ 1.5% of the mapped STSs, are assembled but remain unanchored on either the genetic or RH map. Therefore, these 14 'orphan' contigs are not ordered relative to other contigs. In our contig maps, adjacent STSs are connected by two or more YACs in > 95% of cases. With 2150 mapped STSs, our map provides an average STS spacing of ~ 79 kb. The physical map we report here exceeds the goal of 100-kb average STS spacing and should provide an excellent framework for systematic sequencing of the chromosome.