Two proteins with known characteristics on one-dimensional gels were studied by two-dimensional electrophoresis to compare the sensitivities of the two methods in detecting genetic variation. Two-dimensional electrophoresis was found to be less sensitive than several types of one-dimensional gels in distinguishing variants of both proteins. Denaturation of proteins in urea in the two-dimensional method makes it possible to distinguish closely related proteins that differ from each other by units of charge. Many more types of variation in protein sequences can be distinguished on one-dimensional gels in the absence of denaturants. The estimates of heterozygosity based on two-dimensional gels are lower than those based on other methods, at least in part, because of the limited types of sequence differences that can be detected on two-dimensional gels. The application of two-dimensional electrophoresis to the measurement of genetic variation and to the detection of new mutations should be made carefully, in view of the limited sensitivity of the method in finding differences in sequence.