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Allele frequencies and sequence characteristics of the D2S1242 short tandem repeat (STR) locus were studied in a Japanese population sample. A total of 10 D2S1242 alleles and 34 genotypes were identified in 273 unrelated Japanese individuals. The five most common alleles detected had frequencies of over 10%. No deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium were found when the expected allele values were compared with the observed values. Sequence analysis of each allele showed a tetranucleotide polymorphism. Alleles 9 to 14 had different sequence structures than alleles 15 to 19. Allele 18 had a different sequence in the Japanese sample compared to an Austrian sample. The power of discrimination was 0.95. The present results demonstrate that the D2S1242 STR locus is a useful genetic marker in the Japanese population.