It is widely believed that, if a genetic marker shows a transmission distortion in patients by the transmission/disequilibrium test (TDT), then a transmission distortion in healthy siblings would be seen in the opposite direction. This is also the case in a complex disease. Furthermore, it has been suggested that replacing the McNemar statistics of the TDT with a test of heterogeneity between transmissions to affected and unaffected children could increase the power to detect disease association. To test these two hypotheses empirically, we analyzed the transmission of HLA-DQA1-DQB1 haplotypes in 526 Norwegian families with type 1 diabetic children and healthy siblings, since some DQA1-DQB1 haplotypes represent major genetic risk factors for type 1 diabetes. Despite the strong positive and negative disease associations with particular DQ haplotypes, we observed no significant deviation from 50% for transmission to healthy siblings. This could be explained by the low penetrance of susceptibility alleles, together with the fact that IDDM loci also harbor strongly protective alleles that can override the risk contributed by other loci. Our results suggest that, in genetically complex diseases, detectable distortion in transmission to healthy siblings should not be expected. Furthermore, the original TDT seems more powerful than a heterogeneity test.