BACKGROUND:Indigenous populations of Australia and Canada experience disproportionately high rates of chronic disease. Our goal was to compare cardiovascular (CVD) risk profile and diabetes complications from three recent comprehensive studies of diabetes complications in different Indigenous populations in Australia and Canada. METHODS:We compared participants from three recent studies: remote Indigenous Australians (2002-2003, n = 37 known diabetes), urban Indigenous Australians (2003-2005, n = 99 known diabetes), and remote Aboriginal Canadians (2001-2002, n = 188 known diabetes). RESULTS:The three groups were similar for HbA1c, systolic BP, diabetes duration. Although leaner by body-mass-index criteria, remote Indigenous Australians displayed a more adverse CVD risk profile with respect to: waist-hip-ratio (1.03, 0.99, 0.94, remote Indigenous Australians, urban Indigenous Australians, remote Canadians, p < 0.001); HDL-cholesterol (0.82, 0.96, 1.17 mmol/L, p < 0.001); urine albumin-creatinine-ratio (10.3, 2.4, 4.5 mg/mmol); and C-reactive protein. With respect to diabetes complications, microalbuminuria (50%, 25%, 41%, p = 0.001) was more common among both remote groups than urban Indigenous Australians, but there were no differences for peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy or peripheral vascular disease. CONCLUSIONS:Although there are many similarities in diabetes phenotype in Indigenous populations, this comparison demonstrates that CVD risk profiles and diabetes complications may differ among groups. Irrespective, management and intervention strategies are required from a young age in Indigenous populations and need to be designed in consultation with communities and tailored to community and individual needs.