A mutant allele of the beta-chemokine receptor gene CCR5 bearing a 32-basepair (bp) deletion (denoted delta ccr5) which prevents cell invasion by the primary transmitting strain of HIV-1 has recently been characterized. Homozygotes for the mutation are resistant to infection, even after repeated high-risk exposures, but this resistance appears not to be total, as isolated cases of HIV-positive deletion homozygotes are now emerging. The consequence of the heterozygous state is not clear, but it may delay the progression to AIDS in infected individuals. A gene frequency of approximately 10% was found for delta ccr5 in populations of European descent, but no mutant alleles were reported in indigenous non-European populations. As the total number of non-European samples surveyed was small in comparison with the Europeans the global distribution of this mutation is far from clear. We have devised a rapid PCR assay for delta ccr5 and used it to screen 3,342 individuals from a globally-distributed range of populations. We find that delta ccr5 is not confined to people of European descent but is found at frequencies of 2-5% throughout Europe, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent (Fig. 1). Isolated occurrences are seen elsewhere throughout the world, but these most likely represent recent European gene flow into the indigenous populations. The inter-population differences in delta ccr5 frequency may influence the pattern of HIV transmission and so will need to be incorporated into future predictions of HIV levels.