Diabetes mellitus is associated with fetal growth acceleration and retardation. These aberrations in fetal growth seem to be influenced by a variety of factors including vascular disease, glycemic control, hypertension and smoking. In order to characterize fetal growth under the above conditions, longitudinal sonographic evaluations were performed in 52 pregnant, insulin-dependent diabetic women with the usual monitoring of the patients' metabolic control. Regression analyses revealed that vascular disease and glycemic conditions were the most important influences for growth, with manifestation beyond the second trimester. With stringent glucose control (mean whole blood less than or equal to 100 mg/dl) in the absence of vasculopathy (white classes A, B, C), fetal growth was similar to that in normal pregnancies. In the presence of vasculopathy (white classes D and FR), growth was reduced, especially when near-normal glycemic levels were achieved. Conversely, in poorly controlled diabetic women, enhanced fetal growth were observed in patients with and without vasculopathy. No aberrations in fetal growth were observed, however, before the third trimester. The findings of our study demonstrate that vasculopathy and glycemia are dominant and independent regulators of fetal growth. However, their influences are not manifested in growth changes before the third trimester.