In light of the conflicting results of the recent United Kingdom Prospective Study (UKPDS), where diabetic patients on metformin monotherapy had lower all-cause mortality and the addition of metformin in sulfonylurea-treated patients was associated with an increased risk of diabetes-related death, we sought to compare the effects on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors of metformin monotherapy with metformin treatment when added to a sulfonylurea compound in patients with type 2 diabetes. Thirty-one volunteers with type 2 diabetes mellitus, 16 on dietary therapy and 15 on sulfonylurea monotherapy (SU), were treated with metformin for 12 weeks. Measurements were made of (1) fasting plasma glucose, hemoglobin A(1c) (HbA(1c)), lipid, remnant lipoprotein cholesterol (RLP-C) levels, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particle size; (2) daylong plasma glucose, insulin, free fatty acid (FFA), triglyceride (TG), and RLP-C concentrations; and (3) fasting levels of soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1), soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1), and soluble E-selectin (sE-selectin). Fasting plasma glucose concentrations decreased to a similar degree after treatment with metformin in both the metformin monotherapy group (12.45 +/- 0.48 v 9.46 +/- 0.47 mmol/L, P <.001) and the combined SU and metformin therapy group (14.09 +/- 0.51 v 10.57 +/- 0.85 mmol/L, P =.001). Fasting plasma lipid concentrations and LDL particle size did not significantly change in either treatment group, whereas fasting RLP-C concentrations were significantly lower in the metformin monotherapy group (0.43 +/- 0.09 v 0.34 +/- 0.07 mmol/L, P =.02). Daylong concentrations of plasma glucose, FFA, TG, and RLP-C were lower to a similar degree in both treatment groups, whereas daylong plasma insulin concentrations were unchanged. Fasting plasma sVCAM-1 levels were significantly lower in both the metformin monotherapy group (484 +/- 19 v 446 +/- 18 ng/mL, P =.02) and the combined SU and metformin therapy group (496 +/- 29 v 456 +/- 31 ng/mL, P =.05), whereas fasting plasma sICAM-1 and sE-selectin levels were essentially unchanged. Administration of metformin, either as monotherapy or in combination with a sulfonylurea drug, improved glycemic control and led to a decrease in several CVD risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes.