Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus is associated with increased glucose, insulin, total and VLDL-triglyceride, and often total and LDL-cholesterol levels which promote vascular disease. Recombinant human insulin-like growth factor-I which mimics many effects of insulin, decreased insulin, total and VLDL-triglyceride, and total and LDL-cholesterol levels in healthy man as well as glucose and insulin levels in Type 2 diabetic patients. We, therefore, investigated total and fractionated triglyceride and cholesterol levels, lipoprotein(a), non-esterified fatty acid, and apolipoprotein levels in eight Type 2 diabetic patients during five control, five treatment, and three wash-out days. They received a constant diet throughout and daily 2 x 120 micrograms insulin-like growth factor-I/kg s.c. during the treatment period. Fasting total and VLDL-triglyceride, total and LDL-cholesterol control levels were (mean +/- SD) 3.1 +/- 2.6, 1.3 +/- 1.0, 6.3 +/- 1.3, and 4.5 +/- 1.1 mmol/l and decreased to 1.6 +/- 0.8, 0.6 +/- 0.4, 5.0 +/- 1.0, and 3.5 +/- 1.1 mmol/l, respectively, on the last treatment day (p < 0.01). During therapy, fasting lipoprotein(a) levels and the postprandial area under the triglyceride curve decreased by 48 +/- 22 and 32 +/- 18% of control (p < 0.01), respectively. In conclusion, insulin-like growth factor-I lowered lipid levels in Type 2 diabetic patients directly or indirectly or both because of decreased glucose and insulin levels. Long-term trials would be of interest with respect to the cardiovascular risk in Type 2 diabetes and patients with hyperlipidaemia.