The aim of this study was to prove the feasibility of continuous subcutaneous glucose monitoring in humans using the comparative microdialysis technique (CMT). The performance of the CMT was determined by comparing tissue glucose values with venous or capillary blood glucose values in healthy volunteers and type 1 diabetic subjects. The CMT is a microdialysis-based system for continuous online glucose monitoring in humans. This technique does not require calibration by the patient. Physiological saline with glucose (5.5 mM) is pumped in a stop-flow mode through a microdialysis probe inserted into the abdominal s.c. tissue. Tissue glucose concentration is calculated by comparing the dialysate and perfusate glucose concentrations. The time delay due to the measurement process is 9 min. We tested the CMT on six healthy volunteers and six type 1 diabetic patients for 24 h in our clinical setting. Comparisons were made to HemoCue analyzer (Angelholm, Sweden) capillary blood glucose measurements (healthy volunteers) and to venous blood glucose concentration determined with a Hitachi analyzer (diabetic patients). The mean absolute relative error of the CMT glucose values from the blood glucose values was 17.8+/-15.5% (n = 167) for the healthy volunteers and 11.0+/-10.8% (n = 425) for the diabetic patients. The mean difference was 0.42+/-1.06 mM (healthy volunteers) and -0.17+/-1.22 mM (diabetic patients). Error grid analysis for the values obtained in diabetic patients demonstrated that 99% of CMT glucose values were within clinically acceptable regions (regions A and B of the Clarke Error Grid). The study results show that the CMT is an accurate technique for continuous online glucose monitoring.