Background Limited success has been achieved through previous attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) linkage scans, which were all designed to map genes underlying the dichotomous phenotype. The International Multi-centre ADHD Genetics (IMAGE) project performed a whole genome linkage scan specifically designed to map ADHD quantitative trait loci (QTL). Methods A set of 1094 single selected Caucasian ADHD nuclear families was genotyped on a highly accurate and informative single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) panel. Two quantitative traits measuring the children's symptoms in home and school settings were collected and standardized according to a population sample of 8000 children to reflect the developmental nature and gender prevalence difference of ADHD. Univariate linkage test was performed on both traits and their mean score. Results A significant common linkage locus was found at chromosome 1p36 with a locus-specific heritability of 5.1% and a genomewide empirical p < .04. Setting-specific suggestive linkage signals were also found: logarithm of odds (LOD) = 2.2 at 9p23 for home trait and LOD = 2.6 at 11q21 for school trait. Conclusions These results indicate that given large samples with proper phenotypic measures, searching for ADHD genes with a QTL strategy is an important alternative to using the clinical diagnosis. The fact that our linkage region 1p36 overlaps with the dyslexia QTL DYX8 further suggests it is potentially a pleiotropic locus for ADHD and dyslexia.