Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is increasingly recognized as a key component in the development of insulin resistance and increased blood pressure. In a sample of 368 individuals, the ratio of soluble TNF-alpha receptors (sTNFR2/sTNFR1) correlated positively with systolic and diastolic blood pressure (P < 0.01). This ratio was significantly greater in type 2 diabetic subjects (DM-2) than in type 1 diabetic patients and was greater than in control nondiabetic subjects (P < 0.00001). The TNF-alpha receptor 1 (TNFR1) density in peripheral blood monocytes was similar in DM-2 patients and in nondiabetic subjects. After phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate, TNFR1 shedding was significantly decreased in DM-2 compared with control subjects, and it was directly associated with insulin sensitivity (r = 0.54, P = 0.03). Serum sTNFR1 concentration was also linked to the vasodilatory response to glyceryltrinitrate (P = 0.01). Conversely, TNF-alpha receptor 2 shedding was negatively associated with insulin sensitivity (r = -0.54, P = 0.03), whereas shedding of L-selectin showed no significant association. After exercise-induced lowering of blood pressure, a parallel decrease in sTNFR2/sTNFR1 was observed in DM-2 patients. Our findings suggest that insulin resistance and blood pressure are linked to altered shedding of TNF-alpha receptors in DM-2. The latter seems reversible and is not genetically determined.