The effect of residual C-peptide secretion in longer standing IDDM on glycaemic control and the prevalence and evolution of complications over 2 years was evaluated. Thirty-one subjects with IDDM of 15.4 (1.5) years duration (mean SEM)) and residual C-peptide secretion, were matched for age, duration of diabetes and body mass index with 31 subjects without detectable C-peptide secretion. At trial entry and over 2 years, levels of HbA1, fructosamine and mean blood glucose were essentially similar in both groups. Levels of glycated albumin (GSA) were significantly higher in the C-peptide negative group after 3 and 9 months (P less than 0.05). An increased prevalence of proliferative retinopathy in the C-peptide negative group and of peripheral vascular disease in the C-peptide secretor group was apparent at entry to the study (both P less than 0.05), although no significant differences were observed after 1 or 2 years. There was no difference in the prevalence of peripheral or autonomic neuropathy, hypertension, nephropathy or ischaemic heart disease. Subjects with C-peptide concentrations greater than 0.100 pmol/ml at entry to this study had lower daily insulin requirements after 1 and 2 years, but behaved like the larger group with any detectable C-peptide secretion in all other respects. Residual C-peptide secretion was lost after 1 year in 7 patients, in whom glycaemic control during the year had been particularly poor. Insulin antibody titres were no different in the 2 groups at any time point. This study suggests that residual C-peptide secretion in longer standing IDDM confers the potential for limited improvements in glycaemic control. This effect appears to be insufficient to prevent the evolution of microvascular complications over a 2-year period. Residual C-peptide secretion and relative hyperinsulinaemia may be associated with an excess of peripheral vascular disease.