The effect of dietary fibre intake on glycaemic control is still controversial. This study analysed the intake of natural dietary fibre in patients with Type I diabetes mellitus enrolled in the EURODIAB IDDM Complications Study to determine any associations with HbA1c levels and with the prevalence of severe ketoacidosis or severe hypoglycaemia. Dietary intake was assessed by a 3-day dietary record. The relation between intake of fibre (total, soluble and insoluble) and HbA1c was examined in 2065 people with Type I diabetes. Associations with severe ketoacidosis (requiring admission to hospital) and severe hypoglycaemia (requiring the help of another person) were analysed in 2687 people with Type I diabetes. Total fibre intake (g/day) was inversely related to HbA1c (p = 0.02), independently of carbohydrate intake, total energy intake and other factors regarding lifestyle and diabetes management. Severe ketoacidosis risk fell significantly with higher fibre intake (p = 0.002), with an adjusted odds ratio of 0.48 (95 % confidence interval 0.27 to 0.84) in the highest quartile ( > or = 23.0 g fibre/day) compared with the lowest quartile ( < or = 13.7 g fibre/day). The occurrence of severe hypoglycaemia was not related to fibre intake. Beneficial effects of fibre on HbA1c and the risk of severe ketoacidosis were particularly pronounced in patients from southern European centres. This study shows that higher fibre intake is independently related to a reduction in HbA1c levels in European people with Type I diabetes. Furthermore, increased fibre intake may reduce the risk of severe ketoacidosis. These beneficial effects were already observed for fibre intake within the range commonly consumed by people with Type I diabetes.