Nucleic acid sequences specific for human cytomegalovirus (CMV) were found in samples of pancreatic tissue from patients with non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes mellitus. RNA extracted from paraffin-embedded or fresh-frozen specimens from 14 of 32 (44%) diabetic patients but from none of 49 non-diabetic controls reacted with 10 kb (pJN201) or 6.6 kb (pCM3) probes of human CMV immediate-early or late gene products, respectively. The RNA from the 32 diabetic patients did not react with nucleic acid probes for mumps, rubella, or coxsackie B viruses. In-situ nucleic acid hybridisation on tissues from 5 randomly selected human-CMV-positive patients showed that the human CMV signal was localised primarily in the islets of Langerhans and not in exocrine cells. Despite the clear viral nucleic acid signal in tissues of human-CMV-positive patients, there were no morphological injuries to the islets, no inflammatory cells in the islets, and no perivascular inflammatory cell cuffing. These findings suggest a possible association of human CMV with type 2 diabetes in human beings.