Diabetic subjects still have a reduced life expectancy despite many potential advances in patient care. Furthermore, population-based studies in well-defined cohorts of patients, to investigate the reduced life expectancies, are generally lacking. Computerized baseline data on a cohort of diabetic patients first attending our clinic during 1982-1985 were used to identify risk factors for increased mortality. This was carried out using an accelerated failure time (ACF) model. Out of 794 patients entered into the model, 201 (25.3%) patients died between 1982 and 1995. Baseline microvascular diabetic complications (peripheral sensory neuropathy and nephropathy) were found to be associated with increased mortality in patients, indicating that these are important, often overlooked, markers for those at greatest risk. Patients with type I (insulin dependent) diabetes mellitus were also identified as being at greater risk.