Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) may regulate the basal plasma membrane glucose transporter recycling and the organization of the transporter intracellular pool in addition to being an insulin signal for translocation of glucose transporters to the plasma membrane. The objectives of the present study were to examine for genetic variability in the human regulatory p85α subunit of PI3-K, to look for an association between gene variants and NIDDM in a case-control study, and to relate identified variability to potential changes in whole-body insulin sensitivity and glucose turnover in a phenotype study. Single-strand conformational polymorphism and heteroduplex analysis of the coding region of the regulatory p85α subunit in cDNA isolated from human muscle tissue from 70 insulin-resistant NIDDM patients and 12 control subjects revealed three silent polymorphisms and a missense mutation at nucleotide position 1020 (G→A), changing a Met to He at codon 326. Using allele-specific oligohybridization, we found a similar allelic frequency of the codon 326Met→Ile variant in 404 NIDDM patients (0.15 [95% CI 0.13–0.17]) and 224 matched glucose tolerant control subjects (0.16 [0.13–0.19]). In a random sample of 380 unrelated healthy young Caucasians aged 18–32 years, in whom we have performed a tolbutamide modified intravenous glucose tolerance test, we identified 263 wildtype subjects, 109 heterozygous subjects, and 8 subjects homozygous for the codon 326 variant (allelic frequency = 0.16 [0.13–0.19]). No difference in glucose disappearance constant (KG), insulin sensitivity index (SI), and glucose effectiveness (SG) was observed between wildtype and heterozygous subjects. However, compared with the combined values for wildtype and heterozygous carriers, KG was reduced by 40% (P = 0.004) and SG by 23% (P = 0.03) in homozygous carriers of the p85α variant. Moreover, in homozygous carriers, a 32% reduction was found in SI (P = 0.08). In conclusion, a codon 326Met→Ile variant in the gene encoding the PI3-K p85α regulatory subunit is found in 31% of a random sample of young healthy Caucasians. About 2% of the subjects in this population carry the gene variant in its homozygous form, and these carriers are characterized by significant reductions in whole-body glucose effectiveness and intravenous glucose disappearance constant. In itself, the gene variant does not confer an increased risk of diabetes.