Diabetes mellitus is a strong risk factor for all manifestations of atherosclerotic vascular disease, coronary heart disease (CHD), cerebrovascular disease and peripheral vascular disease. Diabetes can be classified into two main subtypes, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). This review focuses only on NIDDM. Also, in impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), a precursor stage of diabetes, the risk of macrovascular disease is substantially increased. NIDDM and IGT are known to be associated with several adverse cardiovascular risk factors, including hypertension, obesity, central obesity, hyperinsulinemia and serum lipid and lipoprotein abnormalities, characterized mainly by elevated serum total triglycerides and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Practically no information is available on the role of different cardiovascular risk factors to predict macrovascular complications in subjects with IGT. The role of different cardiovascular risk factors with respect to the risk of CHD, stroke and peripheral vascular disease will be discussed.