A cross-sectional survey was carried out in a New Zealand Polynesian and Caucasian workforce of 5677 staff aged 40-64 years to determine whether serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 are altered in people with newly diagnosed diabetes mellitus and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 concentration was significantly lower in newly detected cases with diabetes and IGT (n = 238) compared with controls individually matched by sex, age (+/- 2 years), ethnicity, and date of interview (mean (S.D.): 69 (31) vs. 76 (34) nmol/l; P = 0.0016). Among controls, serum concentrations were significantly lower in Maori (mean (S.E.) = 65 (5) nmol/l; P = 0.0013) and Pacific Islanders (59 (4) nmol/l; P = 0.0001) compared with Europeans (82 (3) nmol/l), after adjusting for age, sex, and time of year. We conclude that diabetes and IGT are associated with low serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and that low concentrations of this hormone in New Zealand Polynesians may partly explain their increased prevalence of diabetes/IGT compared with Europeans.