Plasma viscosity is mainly determined by large non-spherical proteins. In Type 1 diabetes mellitus, plasma viscosity increases with deterioration of diabetic control. Since protein glycation and formation of advanced glycosylation end products (AGEs) alter the structural and functional properties of proteins, AGEs might influence the rheological properties of plasma proteins. Therefore, we investigated the influence of plasma-AGEs on plasma viscosity in 34 normoalbuminuric diabetic patients (17 Type 1, 17 Type 2) with normal renal and liver function. In an additional experiment, 6 ml plasma of 9 healthy volunteers were incubated under sterile conditions for 14 days at 37.5 degrees C in the presence of 5.2 and 32.9 mmol l(-1) glucose. In diabetic patients, plasma-AGE levels were not correlated with plasma viscosity. Plasma-AGE levels in healthy controls (246 +/- 37 U ml[-1], mean +/- SD) were raised significantly (p<0.001) after the incubation at 37.5 degrees C (392 +/- 57 U ml[-1] and 552 +/- 58 U ml[-1], respectively). However, no difference was found in plasma viscosity pre- and post-incubation (pre-incubation: 1.25 +/- 0.04 mPas, post-incubation: 1.23 +/- 0.03 and 1.24 +/- 0.03, respectively). We conclude that there is no influence of plasma-AGEs on plasma viscosity.