To investigate whether the slightly increased blood pressure that occurs in early diabetic renal disease is associated with hypertensive left ventricular hypertrophy, M-mode echocardiograms were recorded in 11 non-diabetic control subjects and four groups of Type 1 diabetic patients. These were 15 patients without microvascular complications, 10 with microalbuminuria, 12 with early persistent proteinuria, and 8 with established renal impairment. Mean blood pressure was 133/80 mmHg (uncomplicated patients), 143/85 mmHg (microalbuminuria), 147/92 mmHg (early proteinuria) and 158/85 mmHg (renal impairment). Mean intraventricular septal width in the uncomplicated diabetic patients was 9.8 (SE 1.2) mm which did not differ from non-diabetic control subjects. Mean septal width was significantly greater in the other groups (microalbuminuria, 12.7 (1.1) mm, p less than 0.02; proteinuria, 12.0 (0.7) mm, p less than 0.05; renal impairment, 15.5 (1.8) mm, p less than 0.001). Left ventricular mass increased progressively between groups and was significantly increased in those with renal impairment (140 (21) vs 103 (5) g m-2 in uncomplicated patients, p less than 0.05). Septal width in the diabetic population not receiving antihypertensives (n = 37) was significantly correlated with systolic blood pressure (r = 0.45, p less than 0.005) which was the only variable independently related to septal width and ventricular mass. It appears that the slight increase in blood pressure that occurs in microalbuminuria and early proteinuria is frequently associated with hypertensive left ventricular hypertrophy.