A noninsulin-dependent diabetes appeared in fatty rats in our Zucker rat colony. A breeding program yielded a genetic pattern of diabetes consistent with a dominant gene not closely linked to the fatty gene. Fatty males were more frequently affected than fatty females. Since no markers could be identified for heterozygous carriers and since affected fatty rats were 6 months old when diabetes appeared, the diabetic trait could not be sustained in our small colony. Glucose tolerance tests showed that the diabetic fatty rats had little increase in plasma insulin concentration after a glucose load was administered. Plasma insulin concentrations were unchanged relative to control fatty rats. Percentage body fat and plasma triglyceride values were decreased in fatty diabetic rats relative to control fatty rats, however, consistent with insulin resistance in fat and liver. The content of pancreatic insulin was markedly decreased in the diabetic fatty rat relative to either the ad libitum or diet-restricted fatty rats. The occurrence of a genetically based diabetes in a normally outbred colony underscores the importance of genetic traits that interact with obesity in determining diabetes in rodent models.