The aim of this study was to determine the actual prevalence of diabetes mellitus and to investigate the contribution of various risk factors to the diabetes mellitus among the population in a methyl mercury polluted area. The study was a population based cross sectional mass screening survey. A case-control study was designed to estimate the role of various risk factors including methyl mercury exposure for diabetes mellitus. The study was confined to a small rural town 10 km north of Minamata City; 1,087 persons older than 40 years were examined. Measurement of glucose metabolism was made on the basis of urine and haematological examinations. Data on risk factors were collected by questionnaire, and by measurement of body height and weight (obesity). The prevalence rate of the diabetes mellitus was 8.4% in males and 5.3% in females. The odds ratio of family history was significantly higher, 4.63. The odds ratio of residential history in a methyl mercury high polluted area was 0.58. The prevalence of the diabetes mellitus in this methyl mercury polluted area was not increased, contrary to what was expected based on the pathological findings.