We devised an efficient genetic mapping system in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans which is based upon the differences in number and location of the transposable element Tc1 between the Bristol and Bergerac strains. Using the nearly completed physical map of the C. elegans genome, we selected 40 widely distributed sites which contain a Tc1 element in the Bergerac strain, but not in the Bristol strain. For each site a polymerase chain reaction assay was designed that can distinguish between the Bergerac Tc1-containing site and the Bristol "empty" site. By combining appropriate assays in a single reaction, one can score multiple sites within single worms. This permits a mutation to be rapidly mapped, first to a linkage group and then to a chromosomal subregion, through analysis of only a small number of progeny from a single interstrain cross.