Stress is a potential contributor to chronic hyperglycemia in diabetes. Stress has long been shown to have major effects on metabolic activity. Energy mobilization is a primary result of the fight or flight response. Stress stimulates the release of various hormones, which can result in elevated blood glucose levels. Although this is of adaptive importance in a healthy organism, in diabetes, as a result of the relative or absolute lack of insulin, stress-induced increases in glucose cannot be metabolized properly. Furthermore, regulation of these stress hormones may be abnormal in diabetes. However, evidence characterizing the effects of stress in type I diabetes is contradictory. Although some retrospective human studies have suggested that stress can precipitate type I diabetes, animal studies have shown that stressors of various kinds can precipitate--or prevent--various experimental models of the disease. Human studies have shown that stress can stimulate hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, or have no affect at all on glycemic status in established diabetes. Much of this confusion may be attributable to the presence of autonomic neuropathy, common in type I diabetes. In contrast, more consistent evidence supports the role of stress in type II diabetes. Although human studies on the role of stress in the onset and course of type II diabetes are few, a large body of animal study supports the notion that stress reliably produces hyperglycemia in this form of the disease. Furthermore, there is mounting evidence of autonomic contributions to the pathophysiology of this condition in both animals and humans.