Glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) activity has been implicated in renal hypertrophy and extracellular matrix formation in mesangial cells. Recent studies have suggested that polymorphisms in the GLUT1 gene are associated with susceptibility to diabetic nephropathy (DN) in patients with diabetes mellitus. In this study, a novel polymorphism (A-2841T) in the 5' flanking region of GLUT1 was examined in 288 patients with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and 101 normal controls. The polymorphisms were amplified and the fragment digested with the enzyme HpyCH4V. There was a highly significant increase in the frequency of the TT-2841 genotype in patients with nephropathy (n=131) compared with those with either no microvascular complications after a 20-year duration of diabetes (uncomplicated; n=72; 54.5% vs. 2.7%, chi=79.4, P<.000001). There was no difference between the uncomplicated group and those who only had retinopathy (n=50; 2.7% vs. 4.0%, respectively). The frequency in recently diagnosed patients was 17.1% and only 2.0% in normal controls. In contrast, the AA genotype was found in 13.6% of the nephropaths, 76.3% of uncomplicated, 48.0% of retinopaths, and 65% of normal controls. These results confirm previous reports of an association between the GLUT1 gene and susceptibility to DN but not retinopathy. The localisation of this polymorphism suggests that it may be involved in the expression of the gene.