Thirteen of 141 cases (9 percent) of overt, biopsy proven coeliac disease had a definitely affected relative. The pattern of inheritance in these families is compatible with an incompletely penetrant autosomal dominant gene. There was a female preponderance in the adults and the sporadic cases, but not in the children or the familial cases. The series included a pair of concordant and probably monozygotic twins. The authors believe that coeliac disease, as defined at present, is a heterogeneous condition.