To examine the possible role of genetic variants of the OB gene in obesity we examined alleles of a dinucleotide repeat polymorphism, D7S1875, close to the gene, in a group of adult, non-Hispanic Caucasians. There was a significant correlation with body mass index (BMI) at age 26-30 years for males and females combined (P = 0.04) and females only (P = 0.028). Because of the frequent association between obesity and psychiatric symptoms all subjects were screened with the Symptom List 90 (SCL-90). There was a significant increase in scores for anxiety (P = 0.0005), depression (P = 0.003), and other behaviors for subjects homozygous for the OB1875 < 208-bp alleles. Analysis of covariance indicated that this was directly related to the OB alleles and not secondary to the presence of obesity. There was a significant association between the BMI at ages 16 to 40 and homozygosity for the OB1875 < 208-bp alleles and/or the presence of the DRD2 Taq A1 allele for males and females combined (P = 0.002 to 0.005), and for females alone (P = 0.0017 to 0.0005). For females alone these two genes accounted for up to 22.8% of the variance of the BMI. These results are consistent with the polygenic inheritance of obesity, the greater involvement of genetic factors in women and younger individuals, and suggest that variants of the OB gene are causally involved not only in human obesity but its associated behavioral disorders.