A polymorphic DNA sequence in the 5'-flanking region of the human insulin gene was studied in relation to Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes. In 141 Caucasoid subjects analysed by Southern blot hybridisation techniques, two major DNA insertions were observed: a Class 1 allele or a Class 3 allele. The Class 2 allele was not observed in this group of subjects. Genotype frequencies in a control population (n = 88) were: homozygous 1/1, 42%; heterozygous 1/3, 50%; and homozygous 3/3, 8%. Corresponding genotype frequencies in 53 Type 1 diabetic patients were 79%, 21% and 0%, respectively (p less than 0.0005 from chi 2 test). This confirms prevalence data reported by Bell et al. . There appeared to be no coinheritance with HLA-DR3/DR4 related antigens, nor with autoimmune features. Analysis of 17 Type 1 diabetic pedigrees including 34 diabetic and 69 non-diabetic subjects did not demonstrate genetic linkage of these DNA inserts with diabetes, using an autosomal recessive, single locus model of inheritance.