Several single-nucleotide polymorphisms have been identified in the human TNF gene promoter. The polymorphism at position -308 (TNF-308), which involves substituting G for A and designing the TNF2 allele, leads to a higher rate of TNF gene transcription than the wild-type TNF1 allele in in vitro expression studies. It has also been linked to increased susceptibility to a variety of illness. Using PCR-RFLP analysis we detected significant differences in the TNF-308 genotypes of Chilean and other populations. We conclude that there is a gradient in the distribution of the TNF2 allele according to ethnicity; we have also hypothesized that populations bearing a higher proportion of the TNF2 allele may have an increased predisposition toward or incidence of several chronic metabolic, degenerative, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.