Diabetes is a complex disease characterized by chronic hyperglycemia and multiple phenotypes. In 1995, we used a doctor-nurse-clerk team and structured protocol to establish the Hong Kong Diabetes Registry in a quality improvement program. By 2009, we had accrued 2616 clinical events in 9588 Chinese type 2 diabetic patients with a follow-up duration of 6 years. The detailed phenotypes at enrollment and follow-up medications have allowed us to develop a series of risk equations to predict multiple endpoints with high sensitivity and specificity. In this prospective database, we were able to validate findings from clinical trials in real practice, confirm close links between cardiovascular and renal disease, and demonstrate the emerging importance of cancer as a leading cause of death. In addition to serving as a tool for risk stratification and quality assurance, ongoing data analysis of the registry also reveals secular changes in disease patterns and identifies unmet needs.