Evidence has been sought for a genetically determined predisposition among children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) who are also at particular risk for the development of inflammatory eye disease.45 unrelated Caucasian patients (41 female) with early-onset pauciarticular JRA were human leukocyte antigen (HLA) types. 28 of the study group were found to be HLA-DRw5 compared with 16 of 84 controls (X(2), 24.3, P = <0.001). 9 patients were HLA-DRw8 compared with 4 of 84 controls (X(2), 7.51, P = <0.01). Iritis developed in 24 of the 45 children studied, 17 of whom were typed as HLA-DRw5 when compared to controls (X(2), 26.76, P = <0.001) and 6 with iritis typed as HLA-DRw8 (X(2), 9.10, P = <0.01). Antinuclear antibody was found in the serum of 17 of the 28 patients typing as HLA-DRw5 compared with 4 of the 17 who did not have this antigen (X(2), 5.88, P = <0.02). No such association was seen in patients with HLA-DRw8. In a study of linked genes, a delta value of 0.090 was found for HLA-DRw5 with HLA-B12, of 0.070 for DRw5 with HLA-Cw4, and a value of 0.050 for DRw5 and HLA-Bw35. This suggests a linkage disequilibrium between HLA-DRw5 and these two B series alleles, a conclusion which was supported by haplotype analysis in families of 11 of the disease probands. HLA-DRw5 has not previously been reported to be increased in any rheumatic disease group. It is proposed that HLA-DRw5 is a genetic marker defining those at risk for early-onset pauciarticular JRA with iritis.