Recently, two G-->A polymorphisms at positions -308 and -238, in the promoter of the tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) gene, have been identified. These variants have, in different ethnic groups, been linked to estimates of insulin resistance and obesity. The objective of the present study was to investigate whether these genetic variants of TNF-alpha were associated with features of the insulin resistance syndrome or alterations in birth weight in two Danish study populations comprising 380 unrelated young healthy subjects and 249 glucose-tolerant relatives of type 2 diabetic patients, respectively. All study participants underwent an iv glucose tolerance test with the addition of tolbutamide after 20 min. In addition, a number of biochemical and anthropometric measures were performed on each subject. The subjects were genotyped for the polymorphisms by applying PCR restriction fragment length polymorphism. Neither of the variants was related to altered insulin sensitivity index or other features of the insulin resistance syndrome (body mass index, waist to hip ratio, fat mass, fasting serum lipids or fasting serum insulin or C-peptide). Birth weight and the ponderal index were also not associated with the polymorphisms. In conclusion, although the study was carried out on sufficiently large study samples, the study does not support a major role of the -308 or -238 substitutions of the TNF-alpha gene in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance or altered birth weight among Danish Caucasian subjects.