Type 1 diabetes is a multifactorial disease caused by a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors. The genetic factors involved consist of multiple susceptibility genes, at least five of which, HLA, INS, CTLA4, PTPN22 and IL2RA/CD25, have been shown to be associated with type 1 diabetes in Caucasian (Western) populations, as has recently been confirmed by genome-wide association studies. It has been proposed, however, that the contribution of these genes to type 1 diabetes susceptibility may be different in Asian (Eastern) populations. HLA and INS genes are consistently associated with type 1 diabetes in both Caucasian and Asian populations, but apparent differences in disease- associated alleles and haplotypes are observed between Japanese and Caucasian subjects. The association of CTLA4 with type 1 diabetes is concentrated in a subset of patients with autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) in both Japanese and Caucasian populations, while the association of PTPN22 with type 1 diabetes in Japanese and most Asian populations is not as clear as in Caucasians. IL2RA/CD25 genes seem to be similarly distributed in type 1 diabetes patients in the two populations, whereas genetic heterogeneity may exist regarding SUMO4, with an association of the M55V variant with type 1 diabetes observed in Asians, but not in Caucasians. Genome-wide association studies (GWA) are largely outstanding for Asian populations but they are now underway in Japan. This review reports on the discovered similarities and differences in susceptibility genes for type 1 diabetes between East and West and discusses the most recent observations made by the involved investigators.