OBJECTIVE - IDDM is an autoimmune disease that occurs among genetically susceptible individuals. In Asian populations, it is not uncommon for adult patients with NIDDM to eventually lose β-cell function and develop IDDM. These individuals may be characterized by autoantibodies to GAD and high- risk HLA-DQ alleles, which are unlikely to be prevalent among patients with true NIDDM or in the general population. The objective of the present study was to evaluate and compare the prevalence of these immunogenetic markers in NIDDM patients and healthy nondiabetic individuals from Korea. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - The prevalences of anti-GAD antibodies and HLA-DQA1 and DQB1 alleles among 121 patients with newly diagnosed NIDDM identified from a population-based study in Yonchon, Korea, and 100 matched healthy control subjects were evaluated and compared. RESULTS - The overall prevalence of anti-GAD antibodies was 1.7% (2 of 121) in patients with previously undiagnosed NIDDM, whereas 1 of 100 control subjects had a positive test for antibodies. Among those who tested positive, titers of antibodies to GAD were not high. No statistically significant differences in the distributions of either mean levels of anti-GAD antibodies or DQA1 and DQB1 alleles were found comparing NIDDM patients with control subjects. Interestingly, the frequency of DQB1*non-Asp-57 and DQA1*Arg-52 alleles in the Korean adult control population was similar to that in the U.S. white population (DQB1*non-Asp- 57: 0.431 vs. 0.475; DQA1*Arg-52: 0.492 vs. 0.463). CONCLUSIONS - The low prevalence of anti-GAD antibodies and HLA-DQA1 and DQB1 susceptibility alleles among recent-onset NIDDM patients, which was similar to observations in control subjects, suggests that diabetes in Korean adults is unlikely to have an autoimmune component to its pathogenesis.