The prevalence of Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes in different South Asian (Asian) communities was compared during the Coventry Diabetes Study, a cross-sectional house to house screening programme for diabetes. Screening was by capillary whole blood glucose measurement with oral glucose tolerance tests when concentrations were greater than or equal to 6.0 mmol l-1 within 2 h of a meal or greater than or equal to 5.0 mmol l-1 2 h or more after a meal and a random 10% of others. Of the 4395 resident Asians, 94% were represented by five communities: Punjabi Sikhs, Punjabi Hindus, Gujerati Moslems, Gujerati Hindus, and Pakistani Moslems. Response to screening was 77-89% and to glucose tolerance test was 59-79%. Differences in anthropometry, socioeconomic circumstances, and migratory patterns were found, but all groups had a higher prevalence of Type 2 diabetes than Europeans. Gujerati Moslems had the highest age-adjusted prevalence (per 1000) of Type 2 diabetes (males: 160 (95% CI 107-228), females: 204 (95% CI 144-283)) when compared with the other Asian groups (males: Punjabi Sikhs 89(72-110), Pakistani Moslems 91(67-120), Gujerati Hindus 84(57-120), Punjabi Hindu 113(74-171); females: Punjabi Sikhs 75(60-94), Pakistani Moslems 103(78-133), Gujerati Hindus 88(62-122), Punjabi Hindu 116(77-174)). That all the Asian groups had a high prevalence of diabetes, in spite of their known dietary, cultural, and socioeconomic differences, suggests that the Asian predisposition to Type 2 diabetes is inherited although environmental factors may be necessary for this to be expressed.