Association and linkage studies have shown that at least one of the genetic factors involved in susceptibility to insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is contained within a 4.1-kb region of the insulin gene. Sequence analysis has led to the identification of 10 DNA variants in this region that are associated with increased risk for IDDM. These variants are in strong linkage disequilibrium with each other, and previous studies have failed to distinguish between the variant(s) that cause increased susceptibility to IDDM and others that are associated with the disease because of linkage disequilibrium. To address this problem, we have undertaken a large population study of French diabetics and controls and have analyzed genotype patterns for several of the variant sites simultaneously. This has led to the identification of a subset consisting of four variants (-2733AC, -23HphI, -365VNTR, and +1140AC), at least one of which appears to be directly implicated in disease susceptibility. The multiple-DNA-variant association-analysis approach that is applied here to the problem of identifying potential susceptibility variants in IDDM is likely to be important in studies of many other multifactorial diseases.