Loss of a whole chromosome 5 or a deletion of its long arm (5q) is a recurring abnormality in malignant myeloid neoplasms. To determine the location of genes on 5q that may be involved in leukemogenesis, we examined the deleted chromosome 5 homologs in a series of 135 patients with malignant myeloid diseases. By comparing the breakpoints, we identified a small segment of 5q, consisting of band 5q31, that was deleted in each patient. This segment has been termed the critical region. Distal 5q contains a number of genes encoding growth factors, hormone receptors, and proteins involved in signal transduction or transcriptional regulation. These include several genes that are good candidates for a tumor-suppressor gene, as well as the genes encoding five hematopoietic growth factors (CSF2, IL3, IL4, IL5, and IL9). By using fluorescence in situ hybridization, we have refined the localization of these genes to 5q31.1 and have determined the order of these genes and of other markers within 5q31. By hybridizing probes to metaphase cells with overlapping deletions involving 5q31, we have narrowed the critical region to a small segment of 5q31 containing the EGR1 gene. The five hematopoietic growth factor genes and seven other genes are excluded from this region. The EGR1 gene was not deleted in nine other patients with acute myeloid leukemia who did not have abnormalities of chromosome 5. By physical mapping, the minimum size of the critical region was estimated to be 2.8 megabases. This cytogenetic map of 5q31, together with the molecular characterization of the critical region, will facilitate the identification of a putative tumor-suppressor gene in this band.