So far little is known about the importance of different types of non-diabetic hyperglycemia for the development of macrovascular disease. The aim of this work was to examine the intima-media thickness (IMT) of the common carotid artery (CCA), a well-accepted marker of atherosclerosis, as well as various risk factors for atherosclerosis in non-diabetic subjects with isolated fasting (IFH; n=67), isolated postchallenge (IPH; n=82) and combined hyperglycemia (CH; n=88) in comparison to normoglycemic (NG; n=265) controls. Subjects were participants of the RIAD study (Risk Factors in IGT for Atherosclerosis and Diabetes). IMT in the IPH (IMTmean: 0.89+/-0.02 mm; IMTmax: 1.01+/-0.02 mm; mean+/-SEM) and CH group (IMTmean: 0.91+/-0.02 mm; IMTmax: 1.03+/-0.02 mm) was significantly increased vs. the NG (IMTmean: 0.82+/-0.01 mm; IMTmax: 0.94+/-0.01 mm) and IFH group (IMTmean: 0.81+/-0.02 mm; IMTmax: 0.90+/-0.03 mm). IMT of the IFH group was similar to the normoglycemic controls. Subjects in the first and second tertile for postchallenge plasma glucose have similar carotid IMT irrespective of the level of fasting plasma glucose. The individuals of the third tertile for 2 h plasma glucose, whether in the first, second or third tertile of fasting plasma glucose, showed the same carotid IMT, which was significantly higher than all other groups, except for the one with lowest tertile for fasting and postchallenge plasma glucose. Except for total cholesterol and von Willebrand factor the levels of all other risk parameters were significantly higher in the hyperglycemic groups in comparison to the normoglycemic controls. Among the hyperglycemic subjects the CH group was at the highest risk for atherosclerosis with significantly increased levels of plasma triglycerides, fibrinogen, PAI-1, albuminuria, HDL-triglycerides, free fatty acids, insulin and proinsulin, and significantly reduced HDL-cholesterol in comparison to the normoglycemic controls. In summary, postchallenge hyperglycemia within the non-diabetic range is associated with atherosclerosis, as measured by the increased intima-media thickness of the common carotid artery. Furthermore, cardiovascular risk factors are significantly raised in all types of non-diabetic hyperglycemia.