Heart failure is a condition closely linked to diabetes. Hyperglycaemia amplifies the generation of a major advanced glycation end product Nepsilon-(carboxymethyl)lysine (CML), which has been associated with the development of vascular and inflammatory complications. An increased accumulation of CML in hearts of diabetic patients may be one of the mechanisms related to the high risk of heart failure. Therefore, we investigated the localization of CML in diabetic hearts. To investigate the presence and accumulation of CML in tissues, a monoclonal anti-CML antibody was generated and characterised. With this novel monoclonal antibody against CML, the localization of CML was investigated by immunohistochemistry, in heart tissue of controls (n = 9) and heart tissue of diabetic patients (n = 8) without signs of inflammation or infarction. In addition, in the same subjects we studied the presence of CML in renal and lung tissues. CML staining was approximately sixfold higher in hearts from diabetic patients as compared to control hearts (2.0 +/- 0.3 and 0.3 +/- 0.2 A.U., respectively, P < 0.01). CML deposition was localized in the small intramyocardial arteries in endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells, but not in cardiomyocytes. These arteries did not show morphological abnormalities. The intensity of staining between arteries at the epicardial, midcardial and endocardial side did not vary significantly within patients. In renal tissues, CML staining was most prominent in tubules and in atherosclerotic vessels, without differences in intensity between controls and diabetic patients. In non-infected lungs, no CML was detected. In conclusion, CML adducts are abundantly present in small intramyocardial arteries in the heart tissue of diabetic patients. The accumulation of CML in diabetic hearts may contribute to the increased risk of heart failure in hyperglycaemia.