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The gene coding for the mitochondrial phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK-M), a pivotal component in gluconeogenesis from lactate via the Cori cycle, was highly polymorphic in strains of egg-type chickens (White Leghorn) of different origins. Based on MspI restriction fragment polymorphisms a total of seven alleles could be distinguished. The allele frequencies were determined in six pairs of strains derived from different genetic base populations. Each pair consisted of two strains which differed in their susceptibility to Marek's disease (MD), a virus-induced neoplastic disease. The frequency of the most common haplotype (M2) was consistently higher in the susceptible strains than in the corresponding resistant strains (P < 0.05, Wilcoxon signedranks test), indicating that the observed differences were not due to random genetic drift. This result suggests that PEPCK-M may be a candidate gene which contains genetic variants affecting MD susceptibility. Variations in gluconeogenesis may affect the interplay between proliferation of neoplasia and host metabolism.