Human glutathione S-transferase (GST) M1 and T1 enzymes exhibit genetic polymorphism, with a percentage of normal individuals exhibiting a homozygous deletion of the relevant genes. We established a differential polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique to simultaneously characterize inactivating mutations responsible for the null alleles of GSTM1 and GSTT1. Primers for GSTM1,GSTT1,and for beta-globin (as a positive control) were used to simultaneously amplify all three gene products from leukocyte DNA from 416 normal healthy human volunteers. Identical GSTM1 and CSTT1 genotypes were obtained using nine samples processed either separately or simultaneously for GSTM1 and GSTT1. The frequency of the null genotype for GSTM1 was higher in whites (114/213 or 53.5% vs 56/203 or 27.6%, p < 0.001) and for GSTT1 was higher in blacks (49/203 or 24.1% vs 32/213 or 15.0%, p = 0.019). The observed frequency of the 'double null' genotype for both GSTM1 and GSTT1 was not significantly different from that predicted if both polymorphisms were independent (p = 0.102) and did not differ by race (p = 0.120) or sex (p = 0.800). There was a higher frequency of the GSTM1 null genotype among females than males (92/202 or 45.5% vs 78/214 or 36.4%, p = 0.049). These results demonstrate that this PCR method is a simple and reliable tool to simultaneously characterize both GSTM1 and GSTT1 null genotypes.