We examined the influences of obesity and diabetes on endothelium-dependent and -independent vasodilation, inflammatory cytokines, and growth factors. We included 258 subjects, age 21-80 years in four groups matched for age and gender: 40 healthy nonobese (BMI <30 kg·m(-2)) nondiabetic subjects, 76 nonobese diabetic patients, 37 obese (BMI >30) nondiabetic subjects, and 105 obese (BMI >30) diabetic patients. The flow-mediated dilation (FMD, endothelium-dependent) and nitroglycerin-induced dilation (NID, endothelium-independent) in the brachial artery, the vascular reactivity at the forearm skin and serum growth factors and inflammatory cytokines were measured. FMD was reduced in the nonobese diabetic patients, obese nondiabetic controls, and obese diabetic patients (P < 0.0001). NID was different among all four groups, being highest in the obese nondiabetic subjects and lowest in the obese diabetic patients (P < 0.0001). The resting skin forearm blood flow was reduced in the obese nondiabetic subjects (P < 0.01). Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was higher in the obese nondiabetic subjects (P < 0.05), tumor necrosis factor-α was higher in the obese diabetic patients (P < 0.0001) and C-reactive protein was higher in both the obese nondiabetic and diabetic subjects (P < 0.0001). Soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 was elevated in the two diabetic groups and the obese nondiabetic subjects (P < 0.05). We conclude that diabetes and obesity affect equally the endothelial cell function but the smooth muscle cell function is affected only by diabetes. In addition, the above findings may be related to differences that were observed in the growth factors and inflammatory cytokines.