<b></b> Estimation of the covariance structure of longitudinal processes is a fundamental prerequisite for the practical deployment of functional mapping designed to study the genetic regulation and network of quantitative variation in dynamic complex traits. We present a nonparametric approach for estimating the covariance structure of a quantitative trait measured repeatedly at a series of time points. Specifically, we adopt Huang et al.'s (2006,<i>Biometrika</i><b>93</b>, 8598) approach of invoking the modified Cholesky decomposition and converting the problem into modeling a sequence of regressions of responses. A regularized covariance estimator is obtained using a normal penalized likelihood with an<i>L</i><sub>2</sub> penalty. This approach, embedded within a mixture likelihood framework, leads to enhanced accuracy, precision, and flexibility of functional mapping while preserving its biological relevance. Simulation studies are