The occurrence of the spontaneous insulin-dependent diabetic syndrome in the rat is the result of several genetic susceptibilities. There is a requirement for the u haplotype of the rat major histocompatibility complex (MHC), RT1. More specifically this requirement is for genes mapping to the right of the RT1 A locus, which codes for class I products. Furthermore, u haplotypes from inbred strains other than the BB rat can provide this permissive u haplotype. Diabetes occurs in animals with either one or two u haplotype and the diabetic syndrome is similar in its characteristics. In addition to the requirement for the MHC genes, there are abnormalities of the immune system of the various diabetes-prone strains, which are present in animals that develop overt disease. These abnormalities segregate independently of the RT1 and interaction between the susceptibilities is necessary for the manifestation of the complete clinical syndrome.