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Allele frequencies for human transferrin (TF) subtypes were determined using serum samples from Japanese subjects living in Fukui prefecture, Japan, and compared with other Japanese populations using isoelectric focusing (IEF) and immunoblotting. The application of IEF revealed considerable heterogeneity in the TF system, enhancing its potential value for anthropologic and genetic studies. So far, TF subtypes of about 27,000 Japanese individuals from 35 population groups have been analyzed to evaluate the degree of genetic variation at the TF locus. Possible geographic and biologic factors are discussed.