The cause of the hepatic siderosis and iron overload that is common in porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) is uncertain. Heterozygosity for genetic hemochromatosis has been supported by some studies of the association between the HLA-A3 antigen and porphyria cutanea tarda but not by others. The hemochromatosis gene is now believed to be located telomeric to HLA-A3 and close to the DNA microsatellite marker D6S1260. We have used this and other microsatellite markers, which together define an ancestral haplotype that is strongly linked to hemochromatosis, to reinvestigate the relationship between these disorders in 41 British patients with sporadic PCT. Fifteen patients carried the hemochromatosis-associated alleles D6S265-1 and D6S105-8. Four of these were homozygous for the ancestral haplotype D6S265-1: D6S105-8: D6S1260-4. We estimate that approximately 37% of British patients with sporadic PCT carry at least one hemochromatosis gene compared with 10% of the general population.