To investigate the role of heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) for diabetic retinopathy, 24-h ambulatory HR and BP were monitored for 162 in patients with type 2 diabetes and normoalbuminuria. The fundus was assessed as no retinopathy, simple diabetic retinopathy (SDR) and proliferative retinopathy (PDR). Comparing the highest with the lowest quartile of diabetic duration, the relative risk for retinopathy was 9.3 and for nocturnal HR, it was 3.6. Comparison among three retinopathy groups (no retinopathy, group 1, n=122; SDR, group 2, n=24; Pre-PDR or PDR, group 3, n=16) showed that 24-h and nocturnal HR were significantly higher in group 3 (80+/-9 and 71+/-9 beats per min) than in group 2 (73+/-8 and 64+/-8) and group 1 (72+/-7 and 60+/-7). In multiple logistic analysis, the odds ratio of diabetic duration and nocturnal HR to the existence of retinopathy was 1.17 (95% CI, 1.10-1.25, P=0.00001) and 1.11 (95% CI, 1.05-1.17, P=0.0002). We concluded that diabetic retinopathy is related to diabetic duration and high heart rate in type 2 diabetes mellitus with normoalbuminuria. Heart rate elevation may be a predictor of advanced retinopathy.