The aim of the present study was to identify in young, diabetes-prone subjects the early abnormalities which may predispose to the development of type 2 diabetes. We studied 10 full-blood Australian Aborigines all of whom had a family history of diabetes and who were from an urbanised community with a high prevalence of this disorder. They were compared to 10 age- and body-mass-index-matched Caucasian controls with no family history of diabetes. Glucose kinetics were measured basally and following an oral glucose load. Fasting plasma glucose was equal in the two groups, but 2 h following the 75 g glucose load, the Aboriginal subjects had higher glycaemia than the controls (P less than 0.01). Insulinaemia was higher in the Aborigines both basally and following the glucose drink (P less than 0.05). Despite the hyperinsulinaemia, hepatic glucose production was higher in the Aboriginal subjects (P less than 0.01), while metabolic clearance rate was lower. It is concluded that in young Australian Aborigines with a strong family history of type 2 diabetes, both hepatic and peripheral insulin resistance are early abnormalities.