Guidelines for the treatment of risk factors in diabetes care have been updated recently, due to indisputable results from clinical end-point trials. This study evaluates risk factor control compared with current national and international targets during the period 1996-2003 in Type 2 diabetes (DM2). Patients were registered in primary-care and hospital outpatient clinics using computer software, or via the Internet. The clinical characteristics of the patients, treatment, HbA(1c), and risk factors were reported after screening by local methods. The numbers of cases of DM2 reported were 17547 in 1996 and 57119 in 2003. The mean HbA(1c) decreased from 7.8 to 7.2%, while blood pressure decreased from 150/82 to 143/78 mmHg during the same period. Longitudinal analysis of results was performed in 5356 patients repeatedly reported, showing slightly lower effects. The new European treatment targets of HbA(1c)< or = 6.1%, blood pressure < 130/80 mmHg and total cholesterol < 4.5 mmol/l were attained by 16, 13 and 28% of the patients in 2003, respectively. The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in 2003 was 77%. Aspirin was prescribed in 36% of cases. Lipid-lowering, anti-hypertensive drugs, and treatment with oral hypoglycaemic agents in combination with insulin were increasingly employed during the period studied. Risk factor control in DM2 reported to the National Diabetes Register (NDR) is slowly improving, although multiple risk factors and the metabolic syndrome are found in most patients. The majority of subjects do not achieve current target levels for HbA(1c), blood pressure and blood lipids. Thus, giving up smoking and increased use of aspirin are called for, as well as more aggressive treatment of hyperglycaemia, elevated blood pressure and blood lipid levels, in accordance with updated international guidelines.