Detection of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) plays an important role in genetic, genomic and cancer research. We develop computational methods to estimate the proportion of homozygous SNP calls, identify samples with structural alterations and/or unusual genotypic patterns, cluster samples with close LOH structures and map the genomic segments bearing LOH by analyzing data of genome-wide SNP arrays or customized SNP arrays. In addition to cancer genetics/genomics, we also apply the methods to study long contiguous stretches of homozygosity (LCSH) in general populations. The LCSH analysis aids in the identification of samples with complex LCSH patterns indicative of nonrandom mating and/or meiotic recombination cold spots, separation of samples with different genetic backgrounds and sex, and mapping of regions of LCSH. Affymetrix Human Mapping 500K Set SNP data from an acute lymphoblastic leukemia study containing 304 cancer patients and 50 normal controls and from the HapMap Project containing 30 African trios, 30 Caucasian trios and 90 independent Asian samples were analyzed. We identified common gene regions of LOH, e.g., ETV6 and CDKN1B, and identified frequent regions of LCSH, e.g., the region that encompasses the centromeric gene desert region of chromosome 16. Unsupervised analysis separated cancer subtypes and ethnic subpopulations by patterns of LOH/LCSH. Simulation studies considering LOH width, effect size and heterozygous interference fraction were performed, and the results show that the proposed LOH association test has good test power and controls type 1 error well. The developed algorithms are packaged into LOHAS written in R and R GUI. Genet. Epidemiol. 35: 247-260, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.