Genotypic abnormalities of the renin-angiotensin system have been suggested as a risk factor for the development of microangiopathic complications in diabetic patients. We studied the relationship of either an insertion-deletion polymorphism in the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) gene and the M235T and T174M variant polymorphisms of the angiotensinogen (AGT) gene in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) patients and its relationship with cardiovascular complications. A total of 193 NIDDM patients (89 men and 104 women aged 59.2 +/- 10.0 years; diabetes duration, 13.2 +/- 6.2 years) and 90 control subjects (42 men and 48 women aged 45.4 +/- 12.6 years) were recruited for the association study. Distribution of the genotype or allelic frequencies for all the studied polymorphisms did not differ significantly between controls and NIDDM patients. ACE and AGT genes did not display any difference in clinical or metabolic parameters according to each gene's genotype for either the control or the NIDDM group. For evaluation of nephropathy and retinopathy, NIDDM patients were matched with subjects not having microangiopathic complications. Thus, a total of 60 patients had diabetic nephropathy and were compared with 100 patients with normoalbuminuria. Sixty-eight NIDDM patients had diabetic retinopathy, and 92 patients presented no signs of retinopathy. There were no differences in genotypic or allelic distribution between NIDDM patients for either the presence or absence of retinopathy or nephropathy. We conclude that the ACE and AGT polymorphisms do not contribute to the genetic susceptibility to diabetic nephropathy and retinopathy in a caucasian Mediterranean population.