Interspecific hybridization in the genus Mus results in male sterility and X-linked placental dysplasia. We have generated several congenic laboratory mouse lines (Mus musculus) in which different parts of the maternal X chromosome were derived from M. spretus. A strict positive correlation between placental weight and length of the M. spretus-derived part of the X chromosome was shown. Detailed analysis was carried out with one congenic strain that retained a M. spretus interval between 12.0 and 30.74 cM. This strain consistently produced hyperplastic placentas that exhibited an average weight increase of 180% over the weight of control placentas. In derived subcongenic strains, however, increased placental weight could no longer be observed. Morphometric analysis of these placentas revealed persistence of abnormal morphology. Fully developed placental hyperplasia could be reconstituted by recombination of proximal and central M. spretus intervals with an intervening M. musculus region. These results may suggest that placental dysplasia of interspecific mouse hybrids is caused by multiple loci clustered on the X chromosome that act synergistically. Alternatively, it is possible that changes in chromatin structure in interspecific hybrids that influence gene expression are dependent on the length of the alien chromosome.