There is considerable evidence to suggest that the genetic vulnerabilities to depression and anxiety substantially overlap and quantitatively act to alter risk to both disorders. Continuous scales can be used to index this shared liability and are a complementary approach to the use of clinical phenotypes in the genetic analysis of depression and anxiety. The aim of this study (Genetic and Environmental Nature of Emotional States in Siblings) was to identify genetic variants for the liability to depression and anxiety after the application of quantitative genetic methodology to a large community-based sample (n = 34 371), using four well-validated questionnaires of depression and anxiety. Genetic model fitting was performed on 2658 unselected sibships, which provided evidence for a single common familial factor that accounted for a substantial proportion of the genetic variances and covariances of the four scales. Using the parameter estimates from this model, a composite index of liability (G) was constructed. This index was then used to select a smaller - but statistically powerful - sample for DNA collection (757 individuals, 297 sibships). These individuals were genotyped with more than 400 microsatellite markers. After the data were checked and cleaned, linkage analysis was performed on G and the personality scale of neuroticism using the regression-based linkage program MERLIN-REGRESS. The results indicated two potential quantitative trait loci (QTL): one on chromosome 1p (LOD 2.2) around 64 cM (43-70 cM) near marker D1S2892 and another on chromosome 6p (LOD 2.7) around 47 cM (34-63 cM) near marker D6S1610. Further exploratory sex-specific analyses suggested that these QTLs might have sex-limited effects.