Abstract Background Rapid response to selection was previously observed in mice selected for high levels of inter-male aggression based on number of attacks displayed in a novel social interaction test after isolation housing. Attack levels in this high aggression line (NC900) increased significantly within just four generations of selective breeding, suggesting the presence of a locus with large effect. We conducted an experiment using a small (n ≈ 100) F2 cross between the ICR-derived, non-inbred NC900 strain and the low aggression inbred strain C57BL/6J, genotyped for 154 fully informative SNPs, to determine if a locus with large effect controls the high-aggression selection trait. A second goal was to use high density SNP genotyping (n = 549,000) in the parental strains to characterize residual patterns of heterozygosity within NC900, and evaluate regions that are identical by descent (IBD) between NC900 and C57BL/6J, to determine what impacts these may have on accuracy and resolution of quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping in the F2 cross. Results No evidence for a locus with major effect on aggressive behavior in mice was identified. However, several QTL with genomewide significance were mapped for aggression on chromosomes 7 and 19 and other social behavior traits on chromosomes 4, 7, 14, and 19. High density genotyping revealed that 28% of the genome is still segregating among the six NC900 females used to originate the F2 cross, and that segregating regions are present on every chromosome but are of widely different sizes. Regions of IBD between NC900 and C57BL/6J are found on every chromosome but are most prominent on chromosomes 10, 16 and X. No significant differences were found for amounts of heterozygosity or prevalence of IBD in QTL regions relative to global analysis. Conclusions While no major gene was identified to explain the rapid selection response in the NC900 line, transgressive variation (i.e. where the allele from the C57BL/6J increased attack levels) and a significant role for dominant gene action were hallmarks of the genetic architecture for aggressive behavior uncovered in this study. The high levels of heterozygosity and the distribution of minor allele frequency observed in the NC900 population suggest that maintenance of heterozygosity may have been under selection in this line.