South Asians are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D). We carried out a genome-wide association meta-analysis with South Asian T2D cases (
n= 16,677) and controls ( n= 33,856), followed by combined analyses with Europeans (neff = 231,420). We identify 21 novel genetic loci for significant association with T2D ( P= 4.7 × 10−8 to 5.2 × 10−12), to the best of our knowledge at the point of analysis. The loci are enriched for regulatory features, including DNA methylation and gene expression in relevant tissues, and highlight CHMP4B, PDHB, LRIG1and other genes linked to adiposity and glucose metabolism. A polygenic risk score based on South Asian-derived summary statistics shows ~4-fold higher risk for T2D between the top and bottom quartile. Our results provide further insights into the genetic mechanisms underlying T2D, and highlight the opportunities for discovery from joint analysis of data from across ancestral populations.