This study evaluated abnormal fibrinolysis in diabetic patients in terms of the pathophysiological significance and reversibility by oral hypoglycemic agents. Forty-seven patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus were randomly treated for 4 weeks with glibenclamide (n = 23) or troglitazone (n = 24). Before and after treatment, glycemic control, steady-state plasma glucose and insulin (SSPG and SSPI, respectively), and markers of fibrinolysis (tissue plasminogen activator [tPA] and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 [PAI-1]) were analyzed in each patient. Pretreatment plasma PAI-1 in diabetic patients, but not tPA, was well correlated with the severity of retinopathy assessed by the fluorescence technique. Four weeks of treatment with troglitazone significantly decreased hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), SSPG, and PAI-1 without an alteration of tPA. The troglitazone-induced decrease in plasma PAI-1 (50.3 v28.8 micromol/L; P < .05) was correlated with HbA1c (8.80% v7.21%, r = .539, P < .01) and SSPG (16.2 v 8.97 mmol/L, r = .562, P < .01) but not with SSPI. In contrast, treatment with glibenclamide for 4 weeks also reduced the HbA1c titer to almost the same extent as troglitazone (1.38% v 1.59%), but did not change the plasma PAI-1 or SSPG titer. These results suggest that an abnormal fibrinolytic state, especially overproduction of PAI-1, may be a pathogenic factor in the development of diabetic complications such as retinopathy, which may be improved by correction of the insulin resistance with troglitazone.