To evaluate the prevalence of the 16189 variant of mitochondrial DNA in Korean adults and its association with insulin resistance. We investigated 160 non-diabetic subjects from a community-based diabetes survey conducted in Yonchon County, Korea in 1993. We extracted the DNA from peripheral blood and examined the 16189 variant by polymerase chain reaction and restrictive enzyme digestion. We compared body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, 2-h plasma glucose after 75 g glucose load, fasting insulin, cholesterol, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance and beta-cell function between the subjects with 16189 variant and wild type. The prevalence of the 16189 variant in Korean adults was 28.8% (46 of 160). Subjects with the 16189 variant had higher fasting glucose and BMI than those with wild type, but fasting insulin, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance and beta-cell function, cholesterol, and blood pressure were not different between two groups. Our results provide evidence for an association of a frequent mitochondrial polymorphism with higher fasting glucose and the risk factors of diabetes mellitus.