Primary vesicoureteral reflux (pVUR) is one of the most common causes of pediatric kidney failure. Linkage scans suggest that pVUR is genetically heterogeneous with two loci on chromosomes 1p13 and 2q37 under autosomal dominant inheritance. Absence of pVUR in parents of affected individuals raises the possibility of a recessive contribution to pVUR. We performed a genome-wide linkage scan in 12 large families segregating pVUR, comprising 72 affected individuals. To avoid potential misspecification of the trait locus, we performed a parametric linkage analysis using both dominant and recessive models. Analysis under the dominant model yielded no signals across the entire genome. In contrast, we identified a unique linkage peak under the recessive model on chromosome 12p11-q13 (D12S1048), which we confirmed by fine mapping. This interval achieved a peak heterogeneity LOD score of 3.6 with 60% of families linked. This heterogeneity LOD score improved to 4.5 with exclusion of two high-density pedigrees that failed to link across the entire genome. The linkage signal on chromosome 12p11-q13 originated from pedigrees of varying ethnicity, suggesting that recessive inheritance of a high frequency risk allele occurs in pVUR kindreds from many different populations. In conclusion, this study identifies a major new locus for pVUR and suggests that in addition to genetic heterogeneity, recessive contributions should be considered in all pVUR genome scans.