Background: Using the longitudinal Framingham Heart Study data on blood pressure, we analyzed the reproducibility of linkage measures from serial cross-sectional surveys of a defined population by performing genome-wide model-free linkage analyses to systolic blood pressure (SBP) and history of hypertension (HTN) measured at five separate time points.Results: The heritability of SBP was relatively stable over time, ranging from 11.6 to 23.5% ( coefficient of variation = 25.7%). However, the variability in linkage results was much greater. The average correlation in LOD scores at any pair of time points was 0.46 for HTN (NPL All LOD) and 0.17 for SBP ( Variance Components LOD). No evidence of reproducible linkage results was found, with a mean. of 0.02 for linkage to HTN and - 0.03 for SBP linkage. At loci with potential evidence for linkage ( LOD > 1.0 at one or more time points), the correlation was even lower. The coefficient of variation at loci with potential evidence of linkage was 126% for HTN and 135% for SBP. None of 15 chromosomal regions for HTN and only one of 28 regions for SBP with potential evidence for linkage had a LOD > 1.0 at more than two of the five time points.Conclusion: These data suggest that, although heritability estimates at different time points are relatively robust, the reproducibility of linkage results in serial cross-sectional samples of a geographically defined population at successive time points is poor. This may explain in part the difficulty encountered in replicating linkage studies of complex phenotypes.