Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) plays a central role in triglyceride metabolism, and the LPL gene T495G HindIII polymorphism has been associated with variations in lipid levels and heart disease in Caucasians with the more common H+ allele being associated with adverse lipid profiles and increased risk of CHD. We investigated this polymorphism in 785 Chinese subjects with varying components of the metabolic syndrome, including 61.4% with early-onset type 2 diabetes (age at diagnosis < or = 40 years), and 167 healthy control subjects using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) method. The allele and genotype frequencies were similar in the patients and control subjects. When grouped above or below standard cutoffs for triglyceride levels, the H+ allele was more frequent in hypertriglyceridemic than that in normotriglyceridemic subjects in the total population (81.5% v 76.1%) and early-onset type 2 diabetics (84.4% v 77.4%, both P <.05). Moreover, H+H+ carriers had significantly higher plasma triglyceride and lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol levels when compared to subjects with the H- allele in the total population, and in patients with early-onset diabetics (both P <.05). In the total population and the early-onset diabetic patients, this relationship was confined to males when gender was considered. We conclude that the H+ allele of the LPL gene HindIII polymorphism is associated with higher plasma triglyceride and lower HDL-cholesterol levels in Chinese patients with early-onset diabetes.