Pentosidine is an advanced Maillard/glycation reaction product the formation of which in human skin is significantly increased in Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus and correlates with the severity of diabetic complications. Preliminary data in a limited number of Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetic individuals showed that skin pentosidine was not significantly elevated, raising the question of whether statistical power was insufficient for differences to be revealed, or whether pentosidine did not form because biological factors intrinsic to Type 2 diabetes affected the advanced Maillard reaction altogether. To resolve this question, pentosidine levels were measured in 209 human skin samples obtained at autopsy and in purified glomerular basement membranes from 45 subjects of various ages, with and without Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and uraemia. Pentosidine increased exponentially in skin but curvilinearly in glomerular basement membranes, and reached 75 and 50 pmol/mg collagen at projected 100 years, respectively. Skin levels were not significantly elevated in individuals with Type 2 diabetes (p > 0.05). In contrast, pentosidine levels in glomerular basement membranes were elevated above the 95% confidence interval in the majority of diabetic patients regardless of the type of diabetes and in all individuals on haemodialysis. These data clearly demonstrate that the advanced Maillard reaction is indeed accelerated in Type 2 diabetes and strongly suggest that differences in pentosidine accumulation rates may be due to differences in collagen turnover. In diabetes and uraemia, accelerated Maillard reaction mediated protein crosslinking, as reflected by pentosidine, may contribute to decreased turnover of the extracellular matrix, sclerosis and thickening of basement membranes.