Vitreous fluid and serum were obtained at the time of vitrectomy from 15 subjects with diabetic proliferative retinopathy and 6 control subjects. The mean serum IGF-I (IGF-I level: 1 nM/l = 7.7 ng/ml) concentrations were 15.40 +/- 4.97 nM/l in controls and 16.24 +/- 4.32 nM/l in diabetic patients. The mean vitreous IGF-I concentration was 1.05 +/- 0.30 nM/l in controls and 0.91 +/- 0.50 nM/l in diabetic patients. There were no significant differences between the two groups, and serum IGF-I concentrations were not correlated with vitreous IGF-I concentrations in the patients with diabetic proliferative retinopathy. These data suggest that IGF-I may not be a risk factor for the development of proliferative diabetic retinpathy.