Rosiglitazone, a thiazolidinedione antidiabetic agent, improves insulin resistance, a key underlying metabolic abnormality in most patients with type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. In animal models of insulin resistance, rosiglitazone decreased plasma glucose, insulin and triglyceride levels and also attenuated or prevented diabetic nephropathy and pancreatic islet cell degeneration. In contrast with troglitazone, rosiglitazone does not induce cytochrome P4503A4 metabolism. It does not interact significantly with nifedipine, oral contraceptives, metformin, digoxin, ranitidine or acarbose. In clinical trials in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, rosiglitazone 2 to 12 mg/day (as a single daily dose or 2 divided daily doses) improved glycaemic control, as shown by decreases in fasting plasma glucose and glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c). Addition of rosiglitazone 2 to 8 mg/day to existing sulphonylurea, metformin or insulin therapy achieved further reductions in fasting plasma glucose and HbA1c. Oral combinations improved insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function according to a homeostasis model assessment. Consistent with its mechanism of action, rosiglitazone appears to be associated with a low risk of hypoglycaemia (<2% of patients receiving monotherapy). There is no evidence to date that rosiglitazone shares the hepatotoxicity of troglitazone.