In order to more clarify the delayed wound healing in diabetes mellitus, we cultured the human epidermal keratinocytes in both 6 mM (control group) and 12 mM glucose (high-glucose group) of "complete" MCDB 153 medium. Hyperglycaemia slowed the rate of their proliferation and inhibited their DNA synthesis and the production of total proteins. By 1 month after primary seeding in high-glucose group, the cells ceased their proliferation, whereas the cells in control group grew for more than 40 days. Mean population doublings in high-glucose group was 5.27 (vs. 7.25 in control, P = 0.001), and mean population doubling time during 1 month in high glucose group was 5.43 days (vs. 3.65 days in control, P = 0.02). They indicate that prolonged exposure to high glucose decreases the replicative life span of human epidermal keratinocytes in vitro. Furthermore, analysis of fatty acid contents in membrane phospholipids with thin-layer and gas chromatography showed no difference between the cultured keratinocytes in both conditions. Immunocytochemical staining of glucose transporter 1 shows that 28.1% of cells in high-glucose group were almost twice positive of those in control group (13.2%, P = 0.008). The mechanism of the ill effects of high glucose on epidermal keratinocytes is not so far clear, but it indicates the possibility of any direct effect of hyperglycaemia on glucose metabolism without changing lipid metabolism on cell membrane. The high-glucose group presented in this report can be available as an in vitro valuable study model of skin epidermal condition on diabetes mellitus.