Serum C4 concentrations were measured in 102 healthy subjects and 90 subjects with type I diabetes mellitus. A wide range was observed in the group as a whole (0.08-0.67 g/l; mean = 0.26 g/l; SEM = 0.01 g/l). After C4 allotyping it was possible to subgroup 134 of these subjects according to the number of C4 null alleles present. C4 concentrations in the group with two null alleles were lower than in the group without null alleles (mean 0.2 v 0.37 g/l; p less than 0.001). C4 concentrations in the group with one C4 null allele were intermediate and significantly different from those of the group without null alleles (mean 0.24 v 0.37 g/l; p less than 0.001). Appropriate analysis has defined reference ranges for serum C4 concentrations in subjects with two, one, or zero C4 null alleles. Interpretation of low serum C4 concentrations should take account of the number of C4 null alleles present.