To investigate HLA-associated genetic susceptibility to Meniere's disease in relation to type II collagen (CII) autoimmunity status, HLA-DRB1 genotyping and ELISA measurement of anti-CII antibody were performed in 41 Korean patients with Meniere's disease. In the anti-CII positive subgroup (20%) of patients, the frequency of HLA-DRB1*0405 was significantly increased (uncorrected) compared with both controls (63% vs 16%) and anti-CII negative patients (63% vs 12%). In the anti-CII negative subgroup, HLA-DRB1*1201 was significantly increased (uncorrected) (27% vs 10%) and DRB1*13 was decreased (6% vs 24%) compared with controls; these alleles appeared to confer susceptibility and resistance to the development of the disease. Association of HLA-DRB1*0405 with anti-CII positive Meniere's disease in this study suggests that it shares a specific HLA-DR sequence, QRRAA, as a genetic susceptibility factor with the anti-CII positive rheumatoid arthritis. In conclusion, whilst type II collagen autoimmunity may have a partial role in Meniere's disease, different HLA-DR alleles may also be associated with either susceptibility or resistance to the development of the disease in relation to anti-CII antibody status.