One of the first steps in the management of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus is setting glycemic goals. Professional organizations advise setting specific hemoglobin A(1c) (HbA(1c)) targets for patients, and individualization of these goals has more recently been emphasized. However, the operational meaning of glycemic goals, and specific methods for individualizing them, have not been well-described. Choosing a specific HbA(1c) target range for a given patient requires taking several factors into consideration, including an assessment of the patient's risk for hyperglycemia-related complications versus the risks of therapy, all in the context of the overall clinical setting. Comorbid conditions, psychological status, capacity for self-care, economic considerations, and family and social support systems also play a key role in the intensity of therapy. The individualization of HbA(1c) targets has gained more traction after recent clinical trials in older patients with established type 2 diabetes mellitus failed to show a benefit from intensive glucose-lowering therapy on cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes. The limited available evidence suggests that near-normal glycemic targets should be the standard for younger patients with relatively recent onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus and little or no micro- or macrovascular complications, with the aim of preventing complications over the many years of life. However, somewhat higher targets should be considered for older patients with long-standing type 2 diabetes mellitus and evidence of CVD (or multiple CVD risk factors). This review explores these issues further and proposes a framework for considering an appropriate and safe HbA(1c) target range for each patient.