[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report a dense genetic linkage map of Heliconius erato, a neotropical butterfly that has undergone a remarkable adaptive radiation in warningly colored mimetic wing patterns. Our study exploited natural variation segregating in a cross between H. erato etylus and H. himera to localize wing color pattern loci on a dense linkage map containing amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP), microsatellites, and single-copy nuclear loci. We unambiguously identified all 20 autosomal linkage groups and the sex chromosome (Z). The map spanned a total of 1430 Haldane cM and linkage groups varied in size from 26.3 to 97.8 cM. The average distance between markers was 5.1 cM. Within this framework, we localized two major color pattern loci to narrow regions of the genome. The first gene, D, responsible for red/orange elements, had a most likely placement in a 6.7-cM region flanked by two AFLP markers on the end of a large 87.5-cM linkage group. The second locus, Sd, affects the melanic pattern on the forewing and was found within a 6.3-cM interval between flanking AFLP loci. This study complements recent linkage analysis of H. erato's comimic, H. melpomene, and forms the basis for marker-assisted physical mapping and for studies into the comparative genetic architecture of wing-pattern mimicry in Heliconius.