We determined serum advanced glycation end-products (AGE) levels in patients with NIDDM and evaluated the relationship between these levels and diabetic complications. The subjects consisted of 125 patients (mean age, 59.2 +/- 11.1 years, duration of diabetes 11.6 +/- 8.9 years, mean HbA1c, 6.8 +/- 1.0%) with stable blood sugar control. Sixty-three healthy volunteers (mean age, 58.3 +/- 12.7 years) served as controls. Serum AGE were measured by a newly developed ELISA method. Serum AGE levels were significantly higher in the diabetic group compared with the normal control group (7.2 +/- 14.6 vs. 3.3 +/- 1.0 mU/ml, P < 0.05). Significant correlations were seen between serum AGE and the degree of diabetic nephropathy. Serum AGE levels of diabetic patients with proliferative retinopathy were significantly higher than those of patients without proliferative retinopathy (5.7 +/- 1.8 vs. 3.1 +/- 1.0 mU/ml, P < 0.025) in the patient groups whose serum creatinine levels were between 2.0 and 3.9 mg/dl, although serum creatinine levels of both groups were not significantly different. Serum AGE levels reflected the severity of diabetic complications, including nephropathy and retinopathy.