Serum paraoxonase is a glycoprotein which binds to high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and may prevent oxidation of LDL by hydrolyzing lipid peroxides. Two polymorphisms identified in the paraoxonase gene (Met-Leu 54 and Gln-Arg 192) have been associated with cardiovascular disease. Oxidative low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is also toxic to retinal capillary endothelial cells and pericytes, so that mildly modified LDL may contribute to the development of diabetic retinopathy. To investigate the potential significance of these polymorphisms in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy in IDDM, 80 patients with diabetic retinopathy and 119 controls without diabetic retinopathy were investigated in the current project. The allelic frequency of leucine 54 (L) was significantly higher in the group with retinopathy than without retinopathy (73% vs. 57%, p < 0.001). The genotype L/L was strongly associated with the development of diabetic retinopathy (p < 0.001), but a similar association was not found with Gln-Arg 192. Leucine 54 is a risk factor for diabetic retinopathy.