It is known that certain combinations of alleles within the human leucocyte antigen (HLA) complex are associated with susceptibility or resistance to type 1 diabetes. Variable associations of DR and DQ with type 1 diabetes are documented in Caucasians but rarely in African populations; however, the role of HLA-DP genes in type 1 diabetes remains uncertain. In order to investigate the HLA class II associations with type 1 diabetes in Cameroonians, we used sequence-specific oligonucleotide probing (SSOP) to identify DRB1, DQA1, DQB1 and DPB1 alleles in 10 unrelated C-peptide negative patients with type 1 diabetes and 90 controls from a homogeneous population of rural Cameroon. We found a significantly higher frequency of the alleles DRB1*03 (chi2 = 17.9; P = 0.001), DRB1*1301 (chi2 = 37.4; P < 0.0001), DQA1*0301 (chi2 = 18.5; P = 0.001) and DQB1*0201 (chi2 = 37.4; P < 0.001) in diabetes patients compared to the control group. The most frequent alleles in the control population were DQA1*01, DQB1*0602 and DRB1*15. The DRB1*04 allele was not significantly associated with type I diabetes in our study population. We observed no significant difference between patients and controls in DPB1 allele frequency. In conclusion, the data in Cameroonian diabetes patients suggest the existence of HLA class II predisposing and specific protective markers, but do not support previous reports of a primary association between HLA-DP polymorphism and development of type I diabetes.