Women with a history of gestational diabetes (GDM) are at increased risk of developing diabetes compared with other women. There are few data on associations between GDM and cardiovascular risk factors. Between 1988 and 1995, 801 Chinese women with a history of GDM were recruited for a 75g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and assessment of various cardiovascular risk factors, namely obesity, hypertension and dyslipidaemia, 6 weeks after delivery at the Diabetes Centre of the Prince of Wales Hospital. Another 431 women with no past history of diabetes or GDM recruited in a diabetes prevalence study were used as control subjects. After adjustment for age, body mass index and smoking, the prevalence of glucose intolerance remained higher in women with a history of GDM when compared to normal controls. The relative risks of obesity, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance in women with a history of GDM comparing to normal subjects were, respectively, 2.4, 7.5, 2.4, 8.1 and 5.0. After excluding those with abnormal glucose tolerance, subjects with a history of GDM still had more adverse cardiovascular risk factors, including higher blood pressure, glycaemic and lipid parameters, than control subjects (after adjustment for age, body mass index and smoking). In conclusion, compared with normal subjects, Chinese women with a history of GDM had an 8-fold increased risk of having diabetes based on their OGTTs performed 6 weeks postdelivery. These women also have increased rates of other cardiovascular risk factors including obesity, high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia.