Anti-myeloperoxidase (anti-MPO) antibodies were detected in 34 of 88 (38%) patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus but in only 3 of 55 (5.7%) healthy subjects and in 4 of 20 patients with autoimmune disease. Specificity of anti-MPO antibodies was assessed by MPO inhibition studies. No relationship was found between the occurrence of anti-MPO and anti-thyroperoxidase antibodies. Levels of soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) were found to be higher in anti-MPO antibody-positive (n = 28, 508 +/- 126 ng/ml) than in anti-MPO antibody-negative (n = 58, 438 +/- 140 ng/ml: P < 0.05) patients. A state of chronic neutrophil activation has been described in diabetes mellitus. As anti-MPO antibodies can stimulate neutrophils to damage endothelial cells in systemic vasculitis, this suggests that a similar mechanism may be operative in the development of diabetic angiopathy.