The aim of the present study was to assess the level of glycaemic control by the measurement of 24 h blood glucose profiles and standard blood analyses under identical nutritional and physical activity conditions in patients with Type II diabetes and healthy normoglycaemic controls. A total of 11 male patients with Type II diabetes and 11 healthy matched controls participated in a 24 h CGMS (continuous subcutaneous glucose-monitoring system) assessment trial under strictly standardized dietary and physical activity conditions. In addition, fasting plasma glucose, insulin and HbA(1c) (glycated haemoglobin) concentrations were measured, and an OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) was performed to calculate indices of whole-body insulin sensitivity, oral glucose tolerance and/or glycaemic control. In the healthy control group, hyperglycaemia (blood glucose concentration >10 mmol/l) was hardly present (2+/-1% or 0.4+/-0.2/24 h). However, in the patients with Type II diabetes, hyperglycaemia was experienced for as much as 55+/-7% of the time (13+/-2 h over 24 h) while using the same standardized diet. Breakfast-related hyperglycaemia contributed most (46+/-7%; P<0.01 as determined by ANOVA) to the total amount of hyperglycaemia and postprandial glycaemic instability. In the diabetes patients, blood HbA(1c) content correlated well with the duration of hyperglycaemia and the postprandial glucose responses (P<0.05). In conclusion, CGMS determinations show that standard measurements of glycaemic control underestimate the amount of hyperglycaemia prevalent during real-life conditions in Type II diabetes. Given the macro- and micro-vascular damage caused by postprandial hyperglycaemia, CGMS provides an excellent tool to evaluate alternative therapeutic strategies to reduce hyperglycaemic blood glucose excursions.