Heritage studies involving populations that share a common genetic background but reside in different geographic areas have provided important insights into the aetiology of Type 1 diabetes. While Type 1 diabetes heritage research has focused on Iberian, Arab, Italian, Indian (Asian), and Oriental groups, little attention has been paid to the evaluation of the disease in populations with black African ancestry. Epidemiological data on the occurrence of Type 1 diabetes in New World black populations have thus far been limited to a few studies conducted mainly in African-Americans. Moreover, much of the available data is not population-based and are of limited value for making generalizations about the black populations studied. Despite the limitations, there is evidence that these populations may be important for studying the aetiology and natural history of Type 1 diabetes. Increased research in this area is warranted and should be based on population-based cohorts.