The influence of the age at onset as well as the duration of disease on the prevalence of residual beta-cell function was studied in insulin-dependent diabetic patients. Two hundred and sixty-seven patients presented at an early age (10-19.9 years) and 158 patients had a late onset (30-39.9 years of age). beta-cell function was evaluated by measuring serum C-peptide immunoreactivity. Fifty-six patients (21.0 per cent) in the early-onset group and 64 (40.5 per cent) in the late-onset group had residual beta-cell function. The prevalence of residual beta-cell function was almost 100 per cent during the first two years of disease and was lower thereafter in diabetics with early onset. About 15 per cent of all patients with a duration between 15 and 35 years had residual beta-cell secretory function.