This study addresses the metabolic effects of sucrose in the diets of 11 individuals with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Each of two dietary periods were 15 days in length, and contained 50% of the calories as carbohydrate, 30% as fat, and 20% as protein. The only variable between the two periods was the percentage of total calories as sucrose, 16% v 1%. Fasting blood samples were analyzed for plasma glucose and insulin as well as total plasma VLDL-, LDL- and HDL-cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations. In addition, postprandial blood samples were obtained for the measurement of plasma glucose, insulin and triglyceride concentrations. Fasting plasma glucose, insulin, and day-long insulin concentrations were similar between the two diets. However, the addition of sucrose in amounts comparable to those typically consumed by the general population resulted in significantly elevated day-long glucose (P less than 0.05) and triglyceride (P less than 0.05) responses, as well as elevated fasting total plasma cholesterol (P less than 0.001), triglyceride (P less than 0.05), VLDL-cholesterol (P less than 0.01), and VLDL-triglyceride (P less than 0.05) concentrations. LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol concentrations were unchanged during the added sucrose diet. It is clear that the consumption of diets containing moderate amounts of sucrose resulted in changes to plasma lipid and postprandial glucose concentrations that have been identified as risk factors for coronary artery disease. Therefore, it seems prudent at this time to advise patients with NIDDM to avoid added dietary sucrose.