Ten patients with poorly controlled type I diabetes mellitus and a documented complication of their disease were observed during 6 months of conventional diabetic management followed by 6 months of insulin infusion pump treatment and home blood glucose monitoring. Median nerve conduction velocity (NCV) was inversely correlated with the glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level at entry into the study (r = 0.71; P less than 0.05). The mean HbA1c value at the end of the conventional treatment period was 14.3% and fell to 10.1% by completion of the pump treatment period (P less than 0.0001). The median NCV was significantly greater at the completion of the infusion treatment period than it was at the end of the conventional management portion of the study. However, the rate of increase in NCV during the infusion period was not greater than the rate established during the prior treatment period. In addition, change in HbA1c levels during the pump treatment period did not correlate with change in conduction velocity for any of the nerves studies. These results from a self-controlled study of continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion indicate that improved blood glucose control without normalization of metabolic parameters is not sufficient to reverse the functional deterioration of large, fast-conducting nerve fibers that occurs in type I diabetes.