To assess the effects of troglitazone monotherapy on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, we carried out a 6-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 24 hospital and outpatient clinics in the United States and Canada. Troglitazone 100, 200, 400, or 600 mg or placebo once daily with breakfast was administered to 402 patients with type 2 diabetes with fasting serum glucose (FSG) > 140 mg/dL, glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) > 6.5%, and fasting C-peptide > or = 1.5 ng/mL. Prior oral hypoglycemic therapy was withdrawn in patients who received it before the study. FSG, HbA1c, C-peptide, and serum insulin were evaluated at baseline and the end of the study. Analysis was performed on two subsets of patients based on prestudy therapy: Patients treated with diet and exercise only before the study (22% of patients), and those who had been receiving sulfonylurea therapy (78% of patients). Patients treated with 400 and 600 mg troglitazone had significant decreases from baseline in mean FSG and HbA1c at month 6 compared with placebo-treated patients (FSG: -51 and -60 mg/dL, respectively; HbA1c: -0.7 and -1.1%, respectively). In the diet-only subset, 600 mg troglitazone therapy resulted in a significant (P < 0.05) reduction in HbA1c (-1.35%) and a significant reduction in FSG (-42 mg/dL) compared with placebo. Patients previously treated with sulfonylurea therapy had significant (P < 0.05) decreases in mean FSG with 200-600 mg troglitazone therapy compared with placebo (-48, -61, and -66 mg/dL, respectively). Significant (P < 0.05) decreases in mean HbA1c occurred with 400 and 600 mg troglitazone therapy at month 6 (-0.8 and -1.2%, respectively) compared with placebo in this same subset. Significant (P < 0.05) decreases in triglycerides and free fatty acids occurred with troglitazone 400 and 600 mg, and increased high-density lipoprotein occurred with 600 mg troglitazone. We conclude that troglitazone monotherapy significantly improves HbA1c and fasting serum glucose, while lowering insulin and C-peptide in patients with type 2 diabetes. Troglitazone 600 mg monotherapy is efficacious for patients who are newly diagnosed and have never received pharmacological intervention for diabetes.