Patients with Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus complicated by microalbuminuria or albuminuria, have an increased risk of developing macrovascular disease and of early mortality. Because lipoprotein abnormalities have been associated with diabetic nephropathy, this study tested the hypothesis that levels of apolipoprotein (a) are elevated in patients with Type 2 diabetes and increased levels of urinary albumin loss. Levels of apolipoprotein (a) in diabetic patients with microalbuminuria (n = 26, geometric mean 195 U/l, 95% confidence interval 117-324) and albuminuria (n = 19, 281 U/l, 165-479) were higher than in non-diabetic control subjects (n = 140, 107 U/l, 85-134, p < 0.05), and in the albuminuric group than diabetic patients without urinary albumin loss (n = 58, 114 U/l, 76-169, p < 0.05). Patients with microalbuminuria and albuminuria had levels comparable with patients undergoing elective coronary artery graft surgery (n = 40, 193 U/l, 126-298). Apolipoprotein (a) levels were higher in diabetic patients with macrovascular disease than in those without (n = 49, 209 U/l, 143-306 vs n = 54, 116 U/l, 78-173, p < 0.05). These preliminary results suggest that raised apolipoprotein (a) levels of Type 2 diabetic patients with microalbuminuria and albuminuria may contribute to their propensity to macrovascular disease and early mortality.