To examine the relationship between demographic, clinical and psychosocial variables and diabetes self-care management in Mexican type 2 diabetic patients. Cross-sectional study of 176 consecutive patients with type 2 diabetes aged 30-75 years, attending a tertiary health-care center in Mexico City. A brief medical history and previously validated questionnaires were completed. The study group consisted of 64 males/112 females, aged 55 +/- 11 years, mean diabetes duration of 12 +/- 8 years and HbA1c of 9.0 +/- 2.0%, 78.4% reported following the correct dose of diabetes pills or insulin, 58% ate the recommended food portions, and 44.3% did exercise three or more times per week. A good adherence to these three recommendations was observed in only 26.1% of the patients. These patients considered as a group were characterized by a greater knowledge about the disease (P < 0.00001), regular home blood glucose monitoring (P < 0.01), an inner perception of better diabetes control (P = 0.007), good health (P = 0.004) and better communication with their physician (P < 0.02). A poor adherence to two or the three main diabetes care recommendations was associated with a depressive state (OR 2.38, 95% CI 1.1-4.9, P < 0.01) and a history of excessive alcohol intake (OR 4.03, 95% CI 1.1-21.0, P = 0.03). Poor adherence to standard diabetes care recommendations is frequently observed in patients with type 2 diabetes attending a specialized health care center in Mexico City. Depression must be identified and treated effectively.