Hemochromatosis, the inherited disorder of iron metabolism, leads, if untreated, to progressive iron overload and premature death. The hemochromatosis gene, HFE, recently has been identified, and characterization of this gene has shown that it contains two mutations that result in amino acid substitutions-cDNA nucleotides 845 G-->A (C282Y) and 187 C-->G (H63D). Although hemochromatosis is common in Caucasians, affecting >=1/300 individuals of northern European origin, it has not been recognized in other populations. The present study used PCR and restriction-enzyme digestion to analyze the frequency of the 845 G-->A and 187 C-->G mutations in HLA-typed samples from non-Caucasian populations, comprising Australian Aboriginal, Chinese, and Pacific Islanders. Results showed that the 845 G-->A mutation was present in these populations (allele frequency 0.32%), and, furthermore, it was always seen in conjunction with HLA haplotypes common in Caucasians, suggesting that 845 G-->A may have been introduced into these populations by Caucasian admixture. 187 C-->G was present at an allele frequency of 2.68% in the two populations analyzed (Australian Aboriginal and Chinese). In the Australian Aboriginal samples, 187 C-->G was found to be associated with HLA haplotypes common in Caucasians, suggesting that it was introduced by recent admixture. In the Chinese samples analyzed, 187 C-->G was present in association with a wide variety of HLA haplotypes, showing this mutation to be widespread and likely to predate the more genetically restricted 845 G-->A mutation.