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Diabetic control was assessed in 82 established insulin-dependent diabetics using a microcapillary system for home preprandial blood glucose sampling. At initial assessment control in the majority (62%) was found to be unsatisfactory (at least 1 preprandial blood glucose greater than 13.0 mmol/l or frequent and severe hypoglycaemia). Sixty-three of these patients were assessed on more than one occasion. Only 24% were satisfactorily controlled at their first assessment, but this proportion had risen to 60% after 12 months. The ability of patients to perform unsupervised blood glucose levels using Ames Glucometers or BM-Glycemie 20-800 test strips was also assessed: 86% of the meter results were within one-third of the laboratory-based results, but there was evidence of bias towards the under-reading of higher glucose values using BM-Glycemie 20-800 test strips. Random blood glucose estimations performed in the diabetic clinic were of little value.