OBJECTIVE - To develop a resource, consisting of comprehensive data and lymphoblastoid cell lines of well-characterized NIDDM families that will be available to the scientific community for genetic studies of NIDDM. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - Non-Hispanic white, Hispanic, African-American, and Japanese-American multiplex NIDDM families, with a minimum of one affected sib-pair, are being collected by the eight Harold Rifkin Family Acquisition Centers. Detailed family and medical histories are obtained from all participants. Family members with diabetes have fasting blood samples drawn, while nondiabetic family members have an oral glucose tolerance test and, when possible, insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion measurements by frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance testing or euglycemic insulin clamp. Lymphoblastoid cell lines are established for all participants. RESULTS - Over 1,400 individuals from ~220 families have been studied since the start of the GENNID (Genetics of NIDDM) program in July 1993. The goal is that by July 1997, data from 300 non-Hispanic white families, >100 Hispanic families, >100 African-American families, and 15 Japanese-American families will have been collected. CONCLUSIONS - The identification of the genes responsible for NIDDM may now be achievable, but only if sound phenotypic data are linked to genetic material from a large number of well-described multiplex families. The GENNID project of the American Diabetes Association is creating a comprehensive resource that will expedite the identification of the genetic basis of NIDDM.