The sRAGE [soluble RAGE (receptor for advanced glycation end-products)] lack the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domain of the full-length receptor and can function as a decoy for RAGE ligands. Recent evidence suggests that sRAGE may be a potential biomarker of RAGE-mediated pathology. The present study aimed to examine the relationship between RAGE expression in peripheral blood monocytes and circulating sRAGE and esRAGE (endogenous sRAGE, a splice variant of sRAGE) in Type 2 diabetes. Protein expression of RAGE and esRAGE in monocyte cell lysate was determined by Western blot in 53 diabetic patients and 52 controls. Monocyte cell-surface-bound full-length RAGE expression was measured using flow cytometry. Serum sRAGE, esRAGE and AGE (advanced glycation end products) were assayed by ELISA. The mean HbA1c (glycated haemoglobin) of the diabetic patients was 9.74% and serum AGEs was increased. Monocyte full-length RAGE expression was significantly higher in diabetic patients whereas esRAGE expression was reduced, and serum AGEs concentration was an independent determinant of monocyte cell surface full-length RAGE expression. Serum levels of sRAGE [573.3 (375.7-754.3) compared with 608.1 (405.3-940.8) pg/ml, P<0.05] and esRAGE [241.8 (154.6-356.6) compared with 286.5 (202.6-390.0) pg/ml, P<0.05; values are medians (interquartile range)] were decreased. There was an inverse association between monocyte RAGE expression and log(serum sRAGE) (r=-0.34, P=0.01) but not with esRAGE. In conclusion, despite an increase in full-length RAGE expression, esRAGE expression was down-regulated in the diabetic patients, and serum sRAGE and esRAGE was also reduced. Hence increased full-length RAGE levels are not associated with a similar increase in sRAGE isoforms levels.