Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is a subtype of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, with early age of onset. MODY is genetically heterogeneous, associated with glucokinase mutations and a locus on chromosome 20q; in about 50% of cases, its genetic background is unknown. We have studied 12 families in which MODY is unlinked to either glucokinase or chromosome 20q markers, and find significant evidence for linkage with microsatellite markers on chromosome 12q, most likely within a 7 centimogran interval bracketed by D12S86 and D12S342. The disease was estimated to be linked to this chromosome region in approximately 50% of families in a heterogeneity analysis. These MODY patients exhibit major hyperglycaemia with a severe insulin secretory defect, suggesting that the causal gene is implicated in pancreatic beta-cell function.