In a population-based survey of 2,930 subjects, prevalence rates for obesity, Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, impaired glucose tolerance, hypertension, hypertriglyceridaemia, and hypercholesterolaemia were 54.3, 9.3, 11.1, 9.8, 10.3 and 9.2%, respectively. The prevalence, however, of each of these conditions in its isolated form (free of the other five) was 29.0% for obesity, 1.3% for Type 2 diabetes, 1.8% for impaired glucose tolerance, 1.5% for hypertension, 1.0% for hypertriglyceridaemia, and 1.7% for hypercholesterolaemia. Two-by-two associations were even rarer. The large differences in prevalence between isolated and mixed forms indicate a major overlap among the six disorders in multiple combinations. In the isolated form, each condition was characterized by hyperinsulinaemia (both fasting and 2 h after oral glucose), suggesting the presence of insulin resistance. In addition, in any isolated condition most of the variables categorising other members of the sextet were still significantly altered in comparison with 1,049 normal subjects. In the whole of the subjects who presented with one or another disorder (1,881 of 2,930 or 64%), marked fasting and post-glucose hyperinsulinaemia was associated with higher body mass index, waist:hip ratio, fasting and post-glucose glycaemia, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, serum triglycerides and total cholesterol levels, and with lower HDL-cholesterol concentrations (all p less than 0.001). We conclude that (1) insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, blood pressure, body fat mass and distribution, and serum lipids are a network of mutually interrelated functions; and (2) an insulin resistance syndrome underlies each and all of the six disorders carrying an increased risk of coronary artery disease.