Y chromosome haplotyping based on microsatellites or single nucleotide polymorphisms has recently proven to be a powerful approach for evolutionary studies of human populations, and also holds great promise for the studies of wild species. However, the use of the approach is hampered in most natural populations by the lack of Y chromosome markers and sequence information. Here, we report the large-scale development of Y chromosome conserved anchor tagged sequence (YCATS) markers in mammals by a polymerase chain reaction screening approach. Exonic primers flanking 48 different introns of Y-linked genes were developed based on human and mouse sequences, and screened on a set of 20 different mammals. On average about 10 introns were amplified for each species and a total of 100 kb of Y chromosome sequence were obtained. Intron size in humans was a reasonable predictor of intron size in other mammals (r2 = 0.45) and there was a negative correlation between human fragment size and amplification success. We discuss a number of factors affecting the possibility of developing conserved Y chromosome markers, including fast evolution of Y chromosome sequences due to male-biased mutation and adaptive evolution of male-specific genes, dynamic evolution of the Y chromosome due to being a nonrecombining unit, and homology with X chromosome sequences.