Fibrinogen is a strong cardiovascular risk factor in the general population, and increased fibrinogen plasma concentrations have been reported in type 2 diabetic patients. However, the mechanisms leading to hyperfibrinogenemia in type 2 diabetes are not known. It is also not known whether possible alterations of fibrinogen turnover may precede clinical diabetic micro- and macrovascular complications and therefore potentially contribute to their onset. To address these questions, fibrinogen production was determined in six male type 2 diabetic patients without detectable micro- and macrovascular complications (age, 45 +/- 4 yr; body mass index, 27 +/- 0.9 kg/m2) and in seven nondiabetic matched controls using leucine isotope precursor-product relationships. Plasma glucose (P < 0.001), insulin (P < 0.05), and glucagon concentrations (P < 0.01) were increased in the patients. Diabetic patients also had increased plasma fibrinogen concentration (+ approximately 50%; P < 0.01) and pool (+ approximately 40%; P < 0.01) as well as fractional (+ approximately 35%; P = 0.08) and absolute (+ approximately 100%; P < 0.01) synthetic rates. The plasma glucagon concentration was positively related (P < 0.005 or less) to the fibrinogen concentration as well as to fractional and absolute synthetic rates. Thus, fibrinogen production is markedly enhanced, and this alteration is likely to determine the observed hyperfibrinogenemia in type 2 diabetic patients. Hyperglucagonemia may contribute to the increased fibrinogen production. These findings in normoalbuminuric patients without clinical complications support the hypothesis that increased fibrinogen production and plasma concentrations may precede and possibly contribute to the onset of clinical cardiovascular complications in type 2 diabetes.