In this study we have used multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) to measure the copy number of CFHR3 and CFHR1 in DNA samples from 238 individuals from the UK and 439 individuals from the HGDP-CEPH Human Genome Diversity Cell Line Panel. We have then calculated the allele frequency and frequency of homozygosity for the copy number polymorphism represented by the CFHR3/CFHR1 deletion. There was a highly significant difference between geographical locations in both the allele frequency (X(2) = 127.7, DF = 11, P-value = 4.97x10(-22)) and frequency of homozygosity (X(2) = 142.3, DF = 22, P-value = 1.33x10(-19)). The highest frequency for the deleted allele (54.7%) was seen in DNA samples from Nigeria and the lowest (0%) in samples from South America and Japan. The observed frequencies in conjunction with the known association of the deletion with AMD, SLE and IgA nephropathy is in keeping with differences in the prevalence of these diseases in African and European Americans. This emphasises the importance of identifying copy number polymorphism in disease.