A method for determining plasma paroxonase activity using an auto-analyser is described. Frequency distributions for British and Indian subjects show bimodality. A study of 40 British families confirms the presence of a genetic polymorphism with regard to plasma paroxonase activity. Two phenotypes can be defined, controlled by two alleles at one autosomal locus. The frequency of the low activity phenotype is less in the Indian population than in the British population. Malay, Chinese, and African subjects fail to show obvious bimodality.