Background: Reproductive traits, such as prolificacy, are of great interest to the pig industry. Better understanding of their genetic architecture should help to increase the efficiency of pig productivity through the implementation of marker assisted selection (MAS) programmes.Results: The Mucin 4 (MUC4) gene has been evaluated as a candidate gene for a prolificacy QTL described in an Iberian × Meishan (Ib × Me) F 2 intercross. For association analyses, two previously described SNPs (DQ124298:g.243A>G and DQ124298:g.344A>G) were genotyped in 347 pigs from the Ib × Me population. QTL for the number of piglets born alive (NBA) and for the total number of piglets born (TNB) were confirmed on SSC13 at positions 44 cM and 51 cM, respectively. The MUC4 gene was successfully located within the confidence intervals of both QTL. Only DQ124298:g.344A>G MUC4 polymorphism was significantly associated with both NBA and TNB (P-value < 0.05) with favourable effects coming from the Meishan origin. MUC4 expression level was determined in F 2 sows displaying extreme phenotypes for the number of embryos (NE) at 30-32 days of gestation. Differences in the uterine expression of MUC4 were found between high (NE ≥ 13) and low (NE ≤ 11) prolificacy sows. Overall, MUC4 expression in high prolificacy sows was almost two-fold increased compared with low prolificacy sows.Conclusions: Our data suggest that MUC4 could play an important role in the establishment of an optimal uterine environment that would increase embryonic survival during pig gestation. © 2011 Balcells et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.