MHC Class II genes may contribute to susceptibility to IgA nephropathy (IgAN). We have previously identified a restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) of the DQB1 region that associated with IgAN in British Caucasoids. However, another group, while demonstrating a DQB1 association, was unable to confirm our finding. MHC molecules are heterodimers consisting of an alpha and beta chain, and thus polymorphism of the DQA1 alpha chain may also be important to disease pathogenesis in IgAN. Therefore, we have determined DQA1 alleles and re-examined DQB1 alleles in British Caucasoids with IgAN using an approach that can differentiate between the common DQ alleles; we have also extended our studies to Caucasoid populations from Northern and Southern Europe, thereby addressing the possibility of variation in genetic susceptibility between populations. DNA was prepared from IgAN patients (British, N = 105; Italian, N = 71; Finnish, N = 48) and healthy controls (British, N = 111; Italian, N = 63; Finnish, N = 41). DQA1 alleles were identified by TaqI RFLP and Southern blotting; alleles that could not be fully resolved by Taq Southern blotting were identified by PCR-RFLP. DQB1 alleles were identified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based technique (PCR-RFLP). No consistent association of DQ alleles were found between the populations studied. In British patients a decreased frequency of DQB1*0201 was observed (P = 0.008), in Finnish patients a decreased frequency of DQB1*0602 was observed (P = 0.01), and in Italian patients no association between DQ markers and IgAn was found. These data demonstrate population variation in disease association, but no strong or consistent association in the DQ region.