The relationship between baseline fasting plasma triglycerides level (FTG) and the incidence of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) within 6 years were investigated in 432 Chinese nondiabetics. They were identified by oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT, oral 75 g glucose) in Daqing diabetes survey in 1986. 220 subjects were men and 212 women. Among them 226 had normal glucose tolerance and 206 impaired glucose tolerance. The measurement of fasting plasma lipids and glucose were performed at the baseline examination and after 6-year follow-up. Six-year incidence of NIDDM in the highest triglycerides tertile group (top tertile Q3, mean = 2.5 mmol/L) was 2.3 times (38.6% vs 16.6%, P < 0.01) as compared with that of the lowest triglycerides tertile group (first tertile Q1, mean = 0.7 mmol/L). The difference of 2-hour blood glucose level in OGTT (OGTT BG2h level) between Q1 and Q3 was 2.4 mmol/L (mean = 7.6-10.0 mmol/L) after 6 years. Multivariate general linear regression analysis demonstrated that the FTG level was positively associated with the OGTT BG2h level after 6 years (P = 0.0335) after controlling the age, sex, fasting blood glucose (FBG) and body mass index (BMI). Therefore this result indicates that FTG level is an independent risk factor for the development of NIDDM in this population.