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Changes in serum lipoproteins were studied in 14 non-insulin dependent diabetics on long-term metformin therapy, after 6 weeks' placebo, and again 6 weeks after restarting active drug therapy. Withdrawal of metformin resulted in a rise of fasting blood glucose, HbA1, serum total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Restarting the drug reversed these changes. Multivariate analysis showed that serum total and LDL cholesterol varied with treatment but not with glycaemic control. Metformin can lower serum total and LDL cholesterol in non-insulin dependent diabetics and this effect is maintained long term.