The adhesion of leucocytes to the endothelium, an early step in atherogenesis, is mediated by cell adhesion molecules. In this study we evaluated the concentration of soluble adhesion molecules in patients with insulin-dependent (IDDM) and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and studied its relation to glycaemic control. Soluble adhesion molecules E-selectin, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) were measured in 31 diabetic patients (18 with IDDM and 13 with NIDDM), 20 hyperlipoproteinaemic patients (10 with type IIa and 10 with type IIb) and 20 healthy subjects. Increased E-selectin concentrations were found in the patients with IDDM and NIDDM and in the hyperlipoproteinaemic patients when compared to the control subjects (p < 0.01 for all the groups). ICAM-1 was found to be elevated only in the patients with NIDDM (p < 0.01). No significant differences in VCAM-1 concentration were found in the different groups of subjects. The concentration of plasma E-selectin was positively correlated with the glycated haemoglobin (r = 0.54, p < 0.01) in patients with IDDM and NIDDM. In the same patients E-selectin was not related to the concentrations of plasma lipids in spite of the fact that it was found to be elevated in hyperlipoproteinaemic subjects. The results though preliminary suggest that in diabetic patients the concentration of soluble adhesion molecules and especially of E-selectin may be related to metabolic control.