There is strong evidence that non-insulin-dependent-diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) has a polygenic mode of inheritance. Nevertheless, major gene effects may be involved in its pathogenesis, especially in forms with an early age of onset. We performed linkage analyses between 4 candidate genes for insulin resistance and NIDDM in a set of 55 multigenerational French Caucasian families, using the affected sib-pair approach. No significant results were obtained with glycogen synthase (GSY), insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) and apolipoprotein C-II (APOC-II) genes. However, a significant trend towards linkage was found between NIDDM and the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase gene (PCK1) located on chromosome 20q (p = 0.005 for the mean estimated proportion of alleles shared identically by descent, mean IBD = 0.55), particularly among sib-pairs with diabetes diagnosed before the age of 46 years (p = 0.0003, mean IBD = 0.66). These results suggest that the PCK1 gene or a nearby locus contributes to the development of NIDDM in the French population.