For yet unidentified reasons less than 50% of patients with insulin-dependent mellitus develop diabetic nephropathy. Genetic factors have been suggested as risk markers for development of nephropathy in diabetes. To further evaluate this hypothesis we studied the prevalence of nephropathy in diabetic siblings of diabetic patients with and without nephropathy. From a representative sample of 619 patients with insulin-dependent diabetes, we identified 20 patients with and 29 patients without nephropathy having diabetic siblings. Diabetic nephropathy (defined as urinary albumin excretion greater than 300 mg/24 hr) was found in 7 out of 21 siblings to patients with nephropathy and 3 out of 30 siblings to normoalbuminuric patients (P less than 0.04). No significant differences between the two groups of siblings with respect to age, diabetes duration, sex distribution, blood pressure or glycosylated hemoglobin A1c-levels were found. A significant correlation within sib-pair of glycosylated hemoglobin A1c was found (r = 0.47; P less than 0.001). We conclude that familial clustering of diabetic nephropathy does occur. This clustering may either be due to genetic inheritance or to sib-similarities due to shared environment, as indicated by the correlation of glycosylated hemoglobin A1c within sib-pairs.