The HLA-DQA1 and DQB1 genes have recently been recognized to be strong genetic markers of susceptibility to type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. The Arg52 DQA1 and non-Asp57 DQB1 alleles of these genes correlate with the disease predisposition and the Asp57 DQB1 and non-Arg52 DQA1 alleles with disease protection. We investigated 113 patients with type 1 diabetes and 121 healthy subjects from the Russian population of Moscow using DNA amplification and dot-blot hybridization with sequence-specific oligonucleotides (SSO). Using conventional statistical methods we confirmed previous observations indicating the important role of the above-mentioned amino acid residues in susceptibility and resistance to type 1 diabetes. Relative risk values for all alleles and absolute risk for carriers of most predisposing allele combinations were calculated. The absolute risk for carriers of DQA1 and DQB1 gene alleles allowing for the formation of four possible 'diabetogenic' heterodimers on the surface of immunocompetent cells, regardless of the type of coding (cis or trans), was 2.54%, which is 13 times greater than the background risk for the Russian population--0.2% up to 30 years of age.