Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus is predominantly a disease of aging, with more than 70 percent of non-insulin-dependent (type II) diabetic patients older than 55 years of age. The prevalence of macrovascular, microvascular, and neurologic complications in outpatients with type II diabetes between the ages of 55 and 74 was compared with that in a similarly aged nondiabetic group of patients. The association between duration of diabetes, hypertension, age, and other putative risk factors that are prevalent in this elderly diabetic population and the occurrence of complications was explored. This cross-sectional survey confirmed a significant increase in retinopathy, neuropathy, impotence, and macrovascular complications in patients with type II diabetes. Within the diabetic population, duration of disease was associated with the occurrence of retinopathy and neuropathy, but not associated with such macrovascular complications as coronary artery disease. Gender, type of therapy, and previously identified risk factors for vascular disease such as hypertension had little impact on the prevalence of complications in this population. The notion that type II diabetes in the elderly represents "mild" diabetes with regard to complications must be discarded. Further identification of risk factors within this diabetic population may suggest therapeutic approaches that will prevent or ameliorate the development of complications.