Leptin is thought to be a lipostatic signal that contributes to body weight regulation. Zinc plays an important role in appetite regulation also. Our aim is to evaluate the relationship between leptin and zinc in obese and nonobese type 2 diabetic patients and its relationship with oxidative stress and insulin. We studied 25 nonobese nondiabetic women (controls); 35 nonobese diabetic women; and 45 obese diabetic women. Plasma leptin concentration was determined by immunoradiometric assay. Thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), markers of oxidative stress, were assayed by the spectrofotometric method. Plasma levels of zinc and insulin were measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometer and electrochemiluminescence methods, respectively. We found that nonobese diabetic patients had significantly lower zinc and higher TBARS levels than control subjects (P<0.01). There was no difference in plasma leptin levels between nonobese diabetic subjects and controls. Obese diabetic subjects had significantly higher plasma leptin, TBARS, and insulin levels and significantly lower plasma zinc levels than nonobese diabetic subjects (for each comparison; P<0.01). The univariate and multivariate analyses demonstrated a significant positive correlation between leptin and body mass index (P<0.01) and insulin (P<0.01), and a significant negative correlation between leptin and zinc in obese subjects. Additionally, TBARS levels was positive correlated with insulin and negative correlated with zinc in obese diabetic subjects. We conclude that zinc may be a mediator of the effects of leptin, although the detailed mechanism is still unknown and requires further investigation. Free radical induced mechanism(s) may be involved in this process.