Using a highly discriminatory DNA typing technique, based on the polymerase chain reaction and reverse dot blot hybridization, more refined results were obtained on the association of particular HLA class II alleles, haplotypes and genotypes with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in the Belgian population. The previously reported predisposing effect for the DRB1*0301 encoded DR3 serologic specificity was confirmed and could be assigned to the DRB3*0200 encoded DR52b serologic specificity. A second high risk haplotype, DRB1*0401-DQB1*0302 encoding the DR4-DQ8 serologic specificity, accounted for increased susceptibility both in the total insulin-dependent diabetic population and among DR4-positive patients. Moreover, we found that these DR4 associated DRB1 and DQB1 alleles act as independent risk factors. A possible role for the DPB1 locus can be rejected since the observed predisposing effect for DPB1*0202 probably occurred due to linkage disequilibrium of this allele with DRB1*0301. Particular extended haplotypes accounted for the decreased relative risk observed for the DR2, DR11 and DR13 serologic specificities. The highest relative risk was observed for those DQA1/DQB1 genotypes, allowing for the formation of 4SS (DQ alpha Arg52+/DQ beta Asp57-) heterodimers.