This report presents data on antecedents of Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus in a homogeneous sample of randomly selected 54-year-old men from an urban Swedish population with a diabetes incidence of 6.1% during 13.5 years of follow-up. The increased risk leading to diabetes for those in the top quintile compared to the lowest quintile of the distribution of statistically significant risk factors were: body mass index = 21.7, triglycerides = 13.5, waist-to-hip circumference ratio = 9.6, diastolic blood pressure = 6.7, uric acid = 5.8, glutamic pyruvic transaminase = 3.9, bilirubin = 3.2, blood glucose = 2.7, lactate = 2.4 and glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase = 2.0. Those with a positive family history of diabetes had 2.4-fold higher risk for developing diabetes than those without such a history. In a multivariate analysis glutamic pyruvic transaminase, blood glucose, body mass index, bilirubin, systolic blood pressure, uric acid and a family history of diabetes were all significantly associated with the development of diabetes. Our study demonstrates the great importance of adiposity and body fat distribution for the risk of diabetes. A number of established risk factors for coronary heart disease are risk factors for diabetes as well. Disturbed liver function and increased levels of lactate are early risk factors for diabetes - presumably indicators of the presence of impaired glucose tolerance and/or hyperinsulinaemia.