OBJECTIVE: The effect of polymorphisms of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene on susceptibility to type 1 diabetes has recently been investigated extensively. Several findings on positive disease associations have been observed and, in addition, a protective effect of vitamin D supplementation has been reported. DESIGN: We studied the effect of three vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms (VDRA, VDRB, VDRF) on susceptibility to type 1 diabetes in a large case-control series (more than 2000 controls and about 1000 patients) from the Finnish population. METHODS: A combination of case-control and affected-family based approaches was used. Subjects were genotyped for VDRA (ApaI), VDRB (BsmI) and VDRF (FokI) single nucleotide polymorphisms using a minisequencing reaction. RESULTS: A few borderline significant associations were observed with both approaches used. In the case-control association analyses we found significant differences between cases and controls in frequencies of VDRB (P=0.024, all subjects and P=0.016, HLA DQB1*0302-positive subjects) and VDRF (P=0.0063, Turku cohort). In the total family set a decreased (39.3%) transmission of the VDRA-VDRB-VDRF haplotype 1-1-2 and an increased (60.3%) transmission of haplotype 2-1-2 to sons was seen (P=0.0059 and P=0.024 respectively). Transmission of the haplotype 2-2-1 to daughters was decreased (37.6%, P=0.022). Interestingly, we also observed significant differences in allele frequencies of the polymorphisms studied between populations from three different regions in Finland. CONCLUSIONS: All these differences disappeared after correction for multiple testing. We conclude that the single nucleotide polymorphisms analysed are unlikely to be associated with type 1 diabetes in the Finnish population.