Bone mineral density (BMD) was assessed in 28 women with type II diabetes mellitus and compared to 207 age-matched nondiabetic women. Mean BMD, as measured by dual-photon absorptiometry, 1.12 +/- 0.3 g/cm2 (+/- SEM), was similar to the mean BMD of control subjects, 1.06 +/- 0.1 g/cm2. Only 1 of the 28 diabetic patients had a BMD less than 0.95 g/cm2 ("fracture threshold"), whereas 25% of the control subjects had a BMD below that level. When diabetic and control subjects were matched for weight as well as age, the data continued to show similar BMD among both groups. Moreover, the disparity between the proportion of weight-matched controls (25%) and diabetic subjects (1 of 28) with a BMD below the fracture threshold persisted. Among the group of 17 diabetic subjects receiving insulin, there was a positive relationship between BMD and insulin dose. There was no significant relationship between BMD, duration of diabetes, or hemoglobin Alc. Thus, women with type II diabetes are not at increased risk for diminished BMD and may be protected against bone loss.