We wanted to determine the risk of non-vertebral fracture associated with type and duration of diabetes mellitus, adjusting for other known risk factors. This is a population-based 6-year follow-up of 27,159 subjects from the municipality of Tromsø, followed from 1994 until 2001. The age range was 25-98 years. Self-reported diabetes cases were validated by review of the medical records. All non-vertebral fractures were registered by computerized search in radiographic archives. A total of 1,249 non-vertebral fractures was registered, and 455 validated cases of diabetes were identified. Men with type I diabetes had an increased risk of all non-vertebral [relative risk (RR) 3.1 (95% CI 1.3-7.4)] and hip fractures [RR 17.8 (95% CI 5.6-56.8)]. Diabetic women, regardless of type of diabetes, had significantly increased hip fracture risk [RR 8.9 (95% CI 1.2-64.4) and RR 2.0 (95% CI 1.2-3.6)] for type I and type II diabetes, respectively. Diabetic men and women using insulin had increased hip fracture risk. Duration of disease did not alter hip fracture risk. An increased risk of all non-vertebral fractures and, especially, hip fractures was associated with diabetes mellitus, especially type I. Type II diabetes was associated with increased hip fracture risk in women only.