Linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis has been promoted as a method of mapping disease genes, particularly in isolated populations, but has not yet been used for genome-screening studies of complex disorders. We present results of a study to investigate the feasibility of LD methods for genome screening using a sample of individuals affected with severe bipolar mood disorder (BPI), from an isolated population of the Costa Rican central valley. Forty-eight patients with BP-I were genotyped for markers spaced at ~6-cM intervals across chromosome 18. Chromosome 18 was chosen because a previous genome-screening linkage study of two Costa Rican families had suggested a BP-I locus on this chromosome. Results of the current study suggest that LD methods will be useful for mapping BP-I in a larger sample. The results also support previously reported possible localizations (obtained from a separate collection of patients) of BP-I-susceptibility genes at two distinct sites on this chromosome. Current limitations of LD screening for identifying loci for complex traits are discussed, and recommendations are made for future research with these methods.