Hereditary hemochromatosis (HHC) is an inherited disorder of iron metabolism affecting approximately 1 in 200-300 individuals of Northern European descent. Over time, the continued deposition of iron in parenchymal cells of many organs can eventually lead to diabetes mellitus, cardiomyopathy, and hepatic cirrhosis, the last of which is frequently followed by hepatocellular carcinoma. Although the complications of HHC can be devastating, its clinical management is simple and effective if the disease is identified early in its progression. The recent elucidation of the HFE gene has provided insight into the pathogenesis of HHC and provided a means for the early identification of individuals in whom HHC may develop. Two mutations have been implicated in HHC: C282Y and H63D, The former occurs in a homozygous state seen in 75-100% of patients with HHC. The high correlation of HFE to HHC has caused it to be considered as a candidate gene for population-based genetic testing for diagnosis and detection of predisposition to HHC. In addition, mechanisms of iron transport and metabolism are unfolding and are providing clues to the enigma of iron homeostasis and the pathophysiology of iron overload, (C) 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.