The study aimed to identify risk markers (present at the start of the study in 1989) for the occurrence and progression of microvascular complications 6 years later (in 1995) in a Danish nationwide cohort of children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes (average age at entry 13.7 years). Probabilities for the development of elevated albumin excretion rate (AER), retinopathy, and increased vibration perception threshold (VPT) could then be estimated from a stepwise logistic regression model. A total of 339 patients (47% of the original cohort) were studied. Sex, age, diabetes duration, insulin regimen and dose, height, weight, HbA(1c), blood pressure, and AER were recorded. In addition, information on retinopathy, neuropathy (VPT), and anti-hypertensive treatment was obtained at the end of the study. HbA(1c) (normal range 4.3-5.8, mean 5.3%) and AER (upper normal limit <20 microg min(-1)) in two, timed overnight urine collections were analysed centrally. Eye examination was performed by two-field fundus photography. Determination of VPT was assessed by biothesiometry. Increased AER (> or =20 microg min(-1)) was found in 12.8% of the patients in 1995, and risk markers for this were increased AER and high HbA(1c), in 1989 (both p<0.001). Retinopathy was present in 57.8% of patients in 1995, for which the risk markers were long duration of diabetes (p<0.0001), age (p<0.01), and high HbA(1c) (p<0.0001) in 1989. Elevated VPT (>6.5 V) was found in 62.5% of patients in 1995, for which the risk markers were male sex (p<0.05), age (p<0.0001), and increased AER (p<0.05) in 1989. This study confirms that hyperglycaemia plays a major role for the development of microvascular complications in kidneys and eyes, and emphasises the need for optimal glycaemic control in children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes.