OBJECTIVE--To identify risk factors for all cause mortality according to glucose tolerance status. DESIGN--Cohort study with an average 15.6 years' follow up. SETTING--Paris, France. SUBJECTS--7166 working men aged 44-55 in 1968-72 in the Paris prospective study cohort, with non-insulin dependent diabetes or known result of two hour 75 g oral glucose tolerance test. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Risk factors for death from all causes. RESULTS--128 men were known to be diabetic, 180 had diabetes diagnosed, and 697 had impaired glucose tolerance diagnosed. Compared with normoglycaemic men the relative risks of death in these groups were 2.0 (95% confidence interval 1.4 to 3.0), 2.7 (2.0 to 3.6), and 1.6 (1.3 to 2.0) respectively. Obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, and high non-esterified fatty acid concentration were risk factors for death in all subjects and were unaffected by glucose tolerance. The risks for fasting and two hour insulin concentrations and mean corpuscular volume were two times higher in known diabetic men than in men not known to be diabetic. Central obesity was significant only in men not known to be diabetic (1.6 (1.4 to 1.9)). In known diabetic men a two hour glucose concentration higher than 11.1 mmol/l carried a relative risk of death of 3.8 (1.4 to 9.4). CONCLUSIONS--Diabetic men have similar risk factors for early mortality to other men but are at higher risk from hyperinsulinaemia, hyperglycaemia, and high mean corpuscular volume.