The effect of residual B-cell function on retinopathy was evaluated in a cross-sectional study of 533 insulin-dependent diabetic patients (disease duration 0 to 45 years). One hundred and fifty-three patients with residual B-cell function, as evaluated by stimulated plasma C-peptide concentration, had lower prevalence of retinopathy than patients without B-cell function. The patients with B-cell function had a shorter duration of diabetes and were older at onset, but there was no difference in age at the time of the study. When patients with similar duration of diabetes were compared, no differences in the degrees of retinopathy could be demonstrated between patients with and without B-cell function. These results indicate that residual B-cell function does not protect against or delay the development of diabetic microvascular lesions.