We have studied the presence of GAD65 autoantibodies in women with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) (n = 28) or gestational diabetes (GDM) (n = 139) diagnosed during pregnancy and investigated the temporal relationship between these autoantibodies and the subsequent recurrence or development of IDDM. Among the GDM patients, 4.3% (6 of 139) developed true IDDM during a median follow-up period of 6.3 years (range 4.0-11.0). Of these, 2.2% (3 of 139) were positive for GAD65 autoantibodies at diagnosis of GDM compared to 0% (0 of 27) of healthy pregnant women. All 3 GAD65 autoantibody positive GDM patients subsequently developed IDDM after a median of 14 months (range 4-34). GAD65 autoantibodies were present in 50% (14 of 28) of sera from women with IDDM diagnosed during pregnancy. The non-insulin-requiring remission period was significantly shorter in GAD65 autoantibody positive patients (median 0.5 years [range 0-6.0 years]) than in GAD65 antibody negative patients (median 2.6 years; range 0-9.7 years; p < 0.05). The results suggest that screening for GAD65 autoantibodies in women with GDM or IDDM diagnosed during pregnancy may be useful for predicting the clinical course of the disease.