ApoB is a large glycoprotein with an apparent molecular mass of 550 kDa on NaDodSO4/PAGE. It is a major constituent of most lipoproteins and plays an important role in their metabolism. Recently, apoB cDNA clones have been isolated from an expression library made with mRNA from a human hepatoma cell line. These clones, which were all 1.5-1.6 kilobases (kb) long and corresponded to the 3' end of apoB mRNA, were used to demonstrate that hepatic apoB mRNA is approximately 22 kb long. In the current report, a probe derived from one of these cDNA clones, pB8, was used for in situ hybridization experiments to map the human gene for apoB, APOB, to the distal half of the short arm of chromosome 2. This probe was also used to analyze somatic cell hybrids and, in agreement with the in situ hybridization studies, concordancy was demonstrated with chromosome 2. In addition, two hybrids with chromosome 2 translocations that contain only the short arm reacted with the pB8 probe. A third hybrid with a complex rearrangement of chromosome 2, which deleted an interstitial region and the tip of the short arm of chromosome 2, did not react. These data indicate that APOB maps to either 2p21-p23 or 2p24-pter. In further studies, DNA from normal individuals, digested with the restriction endonuclease EcoRI and subjected to Southern blot analysis with the pB8 probe, revealed a two-allele restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP). The major allele was 11 kb, and the minor allele was 13 kb. The minor allele was present with a frequency of 20-25%. The inheritance of the two alleles was studied in an informative family, and they segregated in a typical autosomal Mendelian fashion. The mapping studies provide the means for understanding the relationship of the APOB locus to others in the human genome, whereas the demonstration of an APOB RFLP increases our ability to assess the role of this locus in determining plasma lipoprotein levels.