Chromosome 21 contains genes relevant to several important diseases. Yeast artificial chromosome (YAC) clones, because they span > 100 kbp, will provide attractive material for initiating searches for such genes. Twenty-two YAC clones, each of which maps to a region of potential relevance either to aspects of the Down syndrome phenotype or to one of the other chromosome 21-associated genetic diseases, have been analyzed in detail. Clones total approximately 6,000 kb and derive from all parts of the long arm. Rare restriction-site maps have been constructed for each clone and have been used to determine regional variations in clonability, methylation frequency, CpG island density, and CpG island frequency versus gene density. This information will be useful for the isolation and mapping of new genes to chromosome 21 and for walking in YAC libraries.