Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is a subtype of noninsulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). It is characterized by an early age of onset and autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. These features and the availability of large multigenerational pedigrees make MODY useful for genetic studies of diabetes. In the large, 5-generational RW pedigree, MODY is tightly linked to genetic markers on chromosome 20q. Affected subjects in this family show abnormalities of carbohydrate metabolism varying from impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) to severe diabetes. Approximately 30% of diabetic subjects become insulin requiring and vascular complications occur. MODY is also linked to the glucokinase gene on chromosome 7p and many different mutations associated with MODY have been identified in this gene. MODY due to mutations in the glucokinase gene is a relatively mild form of diabetes with mild fasting hyperglycemia and IGT in the majority. IT is rarely insulin requiring and rarely has vascular complications. Clinical studies indicate that the genetic or primary defect in MODY is characterized by deranged and deficient insulin secretion and not by insulin resistance and that there are quantitative and qualitative differences in insulin secretory defects which differentiate subjects with MODY due to glucokinase mutations from those with mutations in the gene on chromosome 20q. These differences correlate with the severity of diabetes between these two genetic forms of MODY.