Using exact expected likelihoods, we have computed the average number of phase-unknown nuclear families needed to detect linkage and heterogeneity. We have examined the case of both dominant and recessive inheritance with reduced penetrance and phenocopies. Most of our calculations have been carried out under the assumption that 50% of families are linked to a marker locus. We have varied both the number of offspring per family and the sampling scheme. We have also investigated the increased power when the disease locus is midway between two marker loci 10 cM apart. For recessive inheritance, both linkage and heterogeneity can be detected in clinically feasible sample sizes. For dominant inheritance, linkage can be detected but heterogeneity cannot be detected unless larger sibships (four offspring) are sampled or two linked markers are available. As expected, if penetrance is reduced, sampling families with all sibs affected is most efficient. Our results provide a basis for estimating the amount of resources needed to find genes for complex disorders under conditions of heterogeneity.