We studied the T cell antigen receptor (TcR) constant beta chain genes on HLA typed Japanese patients with ulcerative colitis (UC). A TcR constant beta EcoRI 6.0-kb fragment was present in all Japanese UC patients (n = 17) but completely absent in the controls (n = 35) (chi2 = 47.6, P less than 0.001). The frequency of HLA-DR2 antigen was significantly higher in UC patients (85% versus 28% in controls, P less than 0.001). Furthermore, HLA-DQw1 antigen was also increased in UC patients (96% versus 60% in controls, P less than 0.001). However, HLA-DR4 antigen was significantly decreased in UC patients (12% versus 37%, P = 0.02). HLA-DR1 antigen was not found in UC patients and was present in only 15% of the controls. These results suggest that TcR beta chain and HLA-DQw1 antigen may be important in the pathogenesis of Japanese UC.