The offspring of mother's with diabetes mellitus during pregnancy are presumed to develop altered glucose homeostasis. We analysed metabolic parameters at birth and glucose tolerance and insulin secretion during oral glucose tolerance tests at 1-9 years of age in 129 children born to mothers with pregestational insulin-dependent diabetes (IDDM) and 69 infants of gestational diabetic mothers. Newborns of IDDM mothers displayed higher insulin (p < 0.001), glucose (p < 0.05), and insulin/glucose ratios (p < 0.002) than newborns of gestational diabetic mothers. During childhood, frequencies of impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) rose in infants of IDDM mothers from 9.4% at 1-4 years to 17.4% at 5-9 years of age, while in children of gestational diabetic mothers an increase from 11.1% up to 20.0% was observed. Offspring of gestational diabetic mothers displayed higher stimulated blood glucose (p < 0.025) than infants of IDDM mothers, while children of IDDM mothers showed higher stimulated insulin (p < 0.025), accompanied by increased fasting and stimulated insulin/glucose ratios (p < 0.05 and p < 0.02, respectively). Stimulated insulin in childhood was positively correlated to insulin at birth (p < 0.05). Furthermore, insulin/glucose ratio in childhood showed a positive correlation to insulin (p < 0.01) and insulin/glucose ratio at birth (p < 0.005). In conclusion, a pathogenetic role of fetal and neonatal hyperinsulinism for the development of IGT in both groups of infants of diabetic mothers is suggested, in particular for early induction of insulin resistance in the offspring of mothers with pregestational IDDM.