OBJECTIVE: To investigate hypothalamic beacon gene expression at various developmental stages in genetically selected diabetes-resistant and diabetes-prone Psammomys obesus. In addition, effects of dietary energy composition on beacon gene expression were investigated in diabetes-prone P. obesus. METHODS: Hypothalamic beacon gene expression was measured using Taqman fluorogenic PCR in 4-, 8- and 16-week-old animals from each genetically selected line. RESULTS: Expression of beacon was elevated in the diabetes-prone compared with diabetes-resistant P. obesus at 4 weeks of age despite no difference in body weight between the groups. At 8 weeks of age, hypothalamic beacon gene expression was elevated in diabetes-prone animals fed a high-energy diet, and was correlated with serum insulin concentration. CONCLUSION: P. obesus with a genetic predisposition for the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes have elevated hypothalamic beacon gene expression at an early age. Overexpression of beacon may contribute to the development of obesity and insulin resistance in these animals.