We studied genetic polymorphisms in the promoter region (position -511) and exon 5 (position +3953) of the interleukin (IL)-1beta gene in 122 Japanese patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and 112 controls. We also examined polymorphisms in the IL-1alpha and the IL-1 receptor antagonist genes. No significant difference was found in these genetic markers between PD patients and controls. However, PD patients with homozygotes for allele 1 at position -511 of the IL-1beta gene (IL-1B-511*1), a low producer of IL-1beta, were significantly earlier in the disease onset than those with the IL-1B-511*2 homozygotes, a high producer of IL-1beta. This suggests that IL-1beta might play a role, possibly a protective effect for dopaminergic neurons, in PD. Further population and functional studies are necessary to clarify the role of IL-1beta in PD patients.