The incidence of end-stage renal disease was determined in the Pima Indians of the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona, a population with a high prevalence of Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. Between 1975 and 1986, from a study population of 5059 subjects, end-stage renal disease occurred in 80 persons, 76 (95%) of whom had Type 2 diabetes. A review of the cases with end-stage renal disease indicated that among the diabetic subjects only two cases could be attributed to nondiabetic renal disease; all other cases were attributable to diabetic nephropathy. In diabetic Pima Indians the incidence rate of end-stage renal disease did not change during the study period, was similar in men and women, and was not effected by age at diagnosis of diabetes or by attained age, but did increase significantly with hypertension (p less than 0.05). The incidence of end-stage renal disease attributed to diabetic nephropathy increased from 0 cases/1000 person-years at 0-5 years to 40.8 cases/1000 person-years at greater than or equal to 20 years duration of diabetes. In these subjects with Type 2 diabetes, the incidence rate of end-stage renal disease was similar to that in subjects with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes who were followed at the Joslin Clinic in Boston, Massachusetts when those with similar duration of diabetes were compared.