Diabetic nephropathy is the leading cause of renal failure in industrialized countries. There is strong evidence that diabetic nephropathy is influenced by genetic factors. Studies in the Pima Indians as well as in other populations demonstrate that diabetic nephropathy aggregates in families. The hypothesis that the familial aggregation reflects the effect of a major gene was formally tested by segregation analysis of diabetic nephropathy in Pima Indians with type 2 diabetes. The segregation analysis provided strong evidence for a major genetic effect on the prevalence of diabetic nephropathy; this suggests that some of the genetic determinants of diabetic nephropathy may have effects of sufficient magnitude to be detected by linkage analysis. Therefore, we analyzed data from a genome-wide scan to identify susceptibility loci for nephropathy in diabetic Pima Indians. Analyses conducted by both parametric (model-based) and nonparametric methods revealed tentative evidence for nephropathy susceptibility loci on chromosomes 3q, 7q, 18q, and 20p.