Purified preparations of scrapie prions contain one major macromolecule, designated prion protein (PrP). Genes encoding PrP are found in normal animals and humans but not within the infectious particles. The PrP gene was assigned to human chromosome 20 and the corresponding mouse chromosome 2 using somatic cell hybrids. In situ hybridization studies mapped the human PrP gene to band 20p12----pter. Our results should lead to studies of genetic loci syntenic with the PrP gene, which may play a role in the pathogenesis of prion diseases or other degenerative neurologic disorders.