EURODIAB ACE is a collaborative European study that was set up to assess incidence of childhood insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) in Europe, test the proposal of a south-north gradient, and to gather information to determine the causes and pathogenesis of the disease. Here, the basic epidemiological results are reported. Newly diagnosed cases of IDDM in children aged up to 15 years were identified prospectively in twenty-four geographically well-defined study regions in Europe and Israel (a total of 16.8 million children) during 1989 and 1990. 3060 cases were identified with estimated ascertainment rates exceeding 90% in all study regions. Age-standardised and sex-standardised incidence rates varied widely, ranging from 4.6 (northern Greece) to 42.9 (two regions in Finland) cases per 100,000 per year. Rates in southern Europe were generally higher than previously assumed, and there was an unexpectedly high incidence in Sardinia, which had the second highest rate (30.2 cases per 100,000 per year) recorded in Europe. Eastern European regions had generally low rates. The collaborative network now established provides a framework for further studies to examine the complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors in the cause and pathogenesis of IDDM.