An altered DNA structure exists within the hypervariable region located 360 bp upstream of the human insulin gene. The aim of the present study was to determine whether this structure exists in the insulin gene in vivo, and whether its presence is related to the expression of the insulin gene. However, since there were no clonal human β-cell lines available for such studies, the human insulin gene was transfected into a rat insulinoma-derived β-cell line and several human insulin-expressing clones were selected. One such cell line was treated in vivo with the DNA structural probe bromoacetaldehyde and the chromosomal DNA was extracted. Following digestion with TaqI and subsequent digestion with S1-nuclease to cleave at the bromoacetaldehydereactive sites, the DNA was subjected to agarose gel electrophoresis, and insulin gene fragments were detected by Southern blot analysis. Bromoacetaldehyde generated subfragments of 2500, 1700 and 800 bp in the human insulin gene isolated from the rat β-cell line, while the human insulin gene in the non-expressing HeLa cell line was unreactive to bromoacetaldehyde. These results suggest that an altered structure might exist in the insulin gene-linked polymorphic region of the human insulin gene in vivo, and that this structure may play a role in the expression of the insulin gene.