We have characterized a set of 106 microsatellite markers in 26-127 individual blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus), and assigned their location on the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) and on the chicken (Gallus gallus) genome on the basis of sequence homology. Thirty-one markers are newly designed from zebra finch EST (expressed sequence tags) sequences, 22 markers were developed by others from EST sequences using different methods and the remaining 53 loci were previously designed or modified passerine markers. The 106 microsatellite markers are distributed over 26 and 24 chromosomes in the zebra finch and in the chicken genome respectively and the number of alleles varies between 2 and 49. Eight loci deviate significantly from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and show a high frequency of null alleles, and three pairs of markers located in the same chromosome appear to be in linkage disequilibrium. With the exception of these few loci, the polymorphic microsatellite markers presented here provide a useful genome-wide resource for population and evolutionary genetic studies of the blue tit, in addition to their potential utility in other passerine birds.