Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with diabetes mellitus (DM). The pathophysiology of CVD in diabetes involves traditional and novel cardiac risk factors, including hypertension, dyslipidemia, smoking, genetic factors, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance/hyperinsulinemia, metabolic abnormalities, oxidative/glycoxidative stress, inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, a procoagulant state and myocardial fibrosis. Specific vascular, myopathic and neuropathic alterations have been suggested to be responsible for the excessive cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in diabetes. These alterations manifest themselves clinically as coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure and/or sudden cardiac death. In order to contain the emerging epidemic of CVD in DM, diabetic patients should ideally have excellent glycemic control, a low normal blood pressure and low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and be taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor and aspirin, which may go some way to containing the emerging epidemic of CVD in DM.