Fragile sites are chemically induced nonstaining gaps in chromosomes. Different fragile sites vary in frequency in the population and in the chemistry of their induction. DNA sequences encompassing and including the rare, autosomal, folate-sensitive fragile site, FRA16A, were isolated by positional cloning. The molecular basis of FRA16A was found to be expansion of a normally polymorphic p(CCG)n repeat. This repeat was adjacent to a CpG island that was methylated in fragile site-expressing individuals. The FRA16A locus in individuals who do not express the fragile site is not a site of DNA methylation (imprinting), which suggests that the methylation associated with fragile sites may be a consequence and not a cause of their genesis.