The aim of this study was to compare the frequencies of HFE mutations in African-American women with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) to that of controls and to determine whether these mutations are associated with NIDDM and iron overload. We studied 167 African-American women with NIDDM. The 71 non-diabetic controls were African-American female controls. HLA-A and -B typing and HFE mutation analysis for C282Y and H63D alleles were performed using standard molecular genetic techniques. The frequencies of C282Y and H63D were not significantly different in NIDDM patients and controls. C282Y was observed in 0.59% of patients and 1.41% of controls. H63D was observed in 2.99% of patients and 3.08% of controls. All of the NIDDM patients who possessed either C282Y or H63D mutations had normal values of serum ferritin, serum iron and transferrin saturation. A woman who inherited C282Y also possessed HLA-A3, -B7 which is considered part of the ancestral haplotype containing the gene predisposing to hemochromatosis in Caucasians. The frequencies of C282Y and H63D vary in African Americans from different geographic regions of the United States; this variance can be explained by Caucasian admixture. Although most iron overload cases in African Americans bear more resemblance to cases of African iron overload than to those of Caucasian hemochromatosis, rare cases resembling Caucasian hemochromatosis have been observed in African Americans.