The French incidence study has registered all new cases of Type 1 diabetic children under 20 years of age, from a population of 2.32 million, in an exhaustive and prospective manner. Three hundred and forty cases were identified between 1 January 1988 and 31 December 1989, yielding a mean annual incidence rate 7.3 per 10(5). The lowest rate was observed in the youngest age group (0-4 yr: 4.1 per 10(5)) and the highest around pubertal development (10-14 yr: 11.5 per 10(5)). Details of the previous personal and family history, and the clinical and biological pictures of the disease at diagnosis were recorded. Almost 8 per cent of the children had a first-degree relative with Type 1 diabetes. Polyuria, weight loss, fatigue and abdominal pain were the most frequently reported symptoms, which were of median duration 4.4 months. Mean weight loss before diagnosis was 9.4 +/- 6.8 (+/- SD)% of body weight and was not significantly related to age. Ketonuria was detected in 83.8 per cent and acidosis (total CO2 less than or equal to 18 mmol l-1, if measured) in 48 per cent of the cases. Ketonuria and acidosis were significantly more frequent in the younger age group than in the rest of the group (p less than 0.001).