A new contiguous genetic linkage map of the HXB/BXH set of rat recombinant inbred (RI) strains was constructed to enhance QTL mapping power and precision, and thereby make the RI strain set a better genomics resource. The HXB/BXH rat RI strains were developed from a cross between the hypertensive SHR/OlaIpcv and normotensive BN- Lx/Cub rat strains and have been shown useful for identifying quantitative trait loci (QTL) for a variety of cardiovascular, metabolic, and behavioral phenotypes. In the current analysis, the DNAs from 31 existing strains, 1 substrain, and 4 extinct strains were genotyped for a selection of polymorphic microsatellite marker loci, predominantly polymorphic framework markers from high-density integrated rat genome maps. The resulting linkage map consists of 245 microsatellite markers spanning a total length of 1789 cM with an average inter-marker distance of ~8.0 cM. This map covers the rat genome contiguously and completely with the exception of two locations on Chromosomes (Chrs) 11 and 16. The new genotypic information obtained also permitted further genetic characterization of the RI strain set including strain independence, genetic similarity among the individual strains, and non-syntenic associations between loci.