In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study we investigated the effects of dietary fish oil supplementation on arterial wall characteristics in 20 patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Estimates reflecting compliance values in the large arteries and more peripheral vasculature, as measured by pulse-contour analysis, improved significantly after 6 weeks of fish oil therapy compared with values recorded at baseline and after 6 weeks' administration of olive oil. The large-artery compliance estimate increased from 1.50 (confidence interval [CI], 1.31 to 1.69) mL/mm Hg at baseline to 1.68 (CI, 1.52 to 1.84) mL/mm Hg after fish oil administration (P < .01). The oscillatory compliance value increased from 0.015 (CI, 0.011 to 0.019) mL/mm Hg at baseline to 0.022 (CI, 0.016 to 0.028) mL/mm Hg after fish oil ingestion (P < .05). No changes occurred in arterial blood pressure, cardiac output, stroke volume, or systemic vascular resistance with either intervention. The improved compliance estimates with fish oil ingestion occurred without altering fasting blood glucose and cholesterol concentrations. These results support the hypothesis that fish oils alter vascular reactivity and favorably influence arterial wall characteristics in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. These direct vascular effects, expressed at the level of the vessel wall, may contribute to the cardioprotective actions of fish oil in humans.