The Diabetes Prevention Program is a randomized clinical trial testing strategies to prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals with elevated fasting plasma glucose concentrations and impaired glucose tolerance. The 27 clinical centers in the U.S. are recruiting at least 3,000 participants of both sexes, approximately 50% of whom are minority patients and 20% of whom are > or = 65 years old, to be assigned at random to one of three intervention groups: an intensive lifestyle intervention focusing on a healthy diet and exercise and two masked medication treatment groups--metformin or placebo--combined with standard diet and exercise recommendations. Participants are being recruited during a 2 2/3-year period, and all will be followed for an additional 3 1/3 to 5 years after the close of recruitment to a common closing date in 2002. The primary outcome is the development of diabetes, diagnosed by fasting or post-challenge plasma glucose concentrations meeting the 1997 American Diabetes Association criteria. The 3,000 participants will provide 90% power to detect a 33% reduction in an expected diabetes incidence rate of at least 6.5% per year in the placebo group. Secondary outcomes include cardiovascular disease and its risk factors; changes in glycemia, beta-cell function, insulin sensitivity, obesity, diet, physical activity, and health-related quality of life; and occurrence of adverse events. A fourth treatment group--troglitazone combined with standard diet and exercise recommendations--was included initially but discontinued because of the liver toxicity of the drug. This randomized clinical trial will test the possibility of preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes in individuals at high risk.