Several lines of evidence implicate a role for the serotonergic system in body weight regulation and eating disorders. The magnitude and duration of postsynaptic responses to serotonin (5-HT) is directed by the transport into and release from the presynaptic neuron. Recently, a common polymorphism of a repetitive element in the region of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) was identified that results in a system of two common alleles. The activity of the 5-HTT, as measured in in vitro assays and in human lymphoblastoid cell lines, is dependent on the respective genotype. We thus hypothesized that this polymorphism is relevant for weight regulation in general and is possibly involved in the etiology of anorexia nervosa (AN). Allele frequencies and genotypes were determined in a total of 385 unrelated obese children, adolescents and adults, 112 underweight subjects and 96 patients with AN. Furthermore, both parents of 98 obese children and adolescents and of 55 patients with AN, respectively, were genotyped, thus allowing to test for both association and linkage. The comparison of allele frequencies between obese and underweight probands provided no evidence for a major role of the 5-HTTLPR in weight regulation. Patients with AN had allele frequencies not significantly different to those observed for obese and underweight individuals.