The purpose of this study was to assess chromium handling in non-insulin dependent diabetic patients (NIDDM) compared to healthy volunteers. Chromium handling was evaluated using fasting blood and second morning void urine samples from 93 NIDDM patients and 33 healthy volunteers. Significant differences in chromium homeostasis were seen between patients and controls. NIDDM patients had mean levels of plasma chromium around 33% lower and urine values almost 100% higher than those found in health. Healthy volunteers showed a significant negative correlation between fasting levels of plasma chromium and insulin. This was not evident in NIDDM patients. In the early years of onset of NIDDM, plasma chromium values were inversely correlated with plasma glucose. This was lost in patients with diabetes of more than 2 years duration. We suggest large losses of chromium over many years may exacerbate an already compromised chromium status in NIDDM patients and might contribute to the developing insulin resistance seen in patients with type 2 diabetes.