Although there have been numerous reports from around the world of mutations in the gene of chromosome 7 known as CFTR (cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator), little attention has been given to integrating these mutant alleles into a global understanding of the population molecular genetics associated with cystic fibrosis (CF). We determined the distribution of CFTR mutations in as many regions throughout the world as possible in an effort designed to: 1) increase our understanding of ancestry–genotype relationships, 2) compare mutational arrays with disease incidence, and 3) gain insight for decisions regarding screening program enhancement through CFTR multi-mutational analyses. Information on all mutations that have been published since the identification and cloning of the CFTR gene’s most common allele, ΔF508 (or F508del), was reviewed and integrated into a centralized database. The data were then sorted and regional CFTR arrays were determined using mutations that appeared in a given region with a frequency of 0.5% or greater. Final analyses were based on 72,431 CF chromosomes, using data compiled from over 100 original papers, and over 80 regions from around the world, including all nations where CF has been studied using analytical molecular genetics. Initial results confirmed wide mutational heterogeneity throughout the world; however, characterization of the most common mutations across most populations was possible. We also examined CF incidence, ΔF508 frequency, and regional mutational heterogeneity in a subset of populations. Data for these analyses were filtered for reliability and methodological strength before being incorporated into the final analysis. Statistical assessment of these variables revealed that there is a significant positive correlation between ΔF508 frequency and the CF incidence levels of regional populations. Regional analyses were also performed to search for trends in the distribution of CFTR mutations across migrant and related populations; this led to clarification of ancestry–genotype patterns that can be used to design CFTR multi-mutation panels for CF screening programs. From comprehensive assessment of these data, we offer recommendations that multiple CFTR alleles should eventually be included to increase the sensitivity of newborn screening programs employing two-tier testing with trypsinogen and DNA analysis. Hum Mutat 19:575–606, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.