Fat-free mass (FFM) consists mostly of skeletal muscle and bone tissues, and identification of the genes and molecular mechanisms involved in the control of FFM would have implications for the understanding of sarcopenia and potentially osteoporesis associated with aging, as well as the response to starvation, refeeding, anorexia, and any other conditions in which lean body mass is important. A genome-wide search for genes related to body leanness has been completed in the Quebec Family Study (QFS). Microsatellite markers (N = 292) from the 22 autosomal chromosomes were typed. The mean spacing of the markers was 11.9 centimorgans (cM) (range, <0.1 to 41). FFM was calculated from percent body fat, derived from underwater weighing, and body weight and was adjusted by regression for age and sex effects before analysis. A maximum of 336 sib pairs or 609 pairs of extended relatives were analyzed using single-point Haseman-Elston regression (SIBPAL and RELPAL) and multipoint variance component (SEGPATH) linkage analyses. Significant linkages Were observed on chromosomes 15q25-q26 for a CA repeat within the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) gene (Lod Score = 3.56) and at 18q12 with D18S877 (Lod score = 3.53) and D18S535 (Lod score = 3.58), 2 markers located 10 cM apart. A moderately significant linkage was also observed on chromosome 7p15.3 with the marker D7S1808 (Lod score = 2.72). The most obvious candidate genes within the regions identified by these linkages include the IGFIR on 15q and neuropeptide Y (NPY) and growth hormone- releasing hormone (GHRH) receptor on 7p. On 18q, the melanocortin receptor 4 (MC4R) is not likely the candidate gene for the observed linkage. This study represents the first genome-wide search for genes that may be involved in the regulation of the lean component of body mass in humans. (C) 2000 by W.B. Saunders Company.