BACKGROUND: Diabetes is associated with lower socioeconomic status (SES) in developed countries, but the reverse is true in developing countries. Little is known about the relationship between SES and diabetes among Indigenous populations in developed countries. DESIGN: We examined the relationship between measures of SES and the prevalence of diabetes in the DRUID Study, a cross-sectional study of urban Indigenous Australian volunteers in the Darwin region. RESULTS: Among 777 participants aged 15-64 years included in the analysis, 17.1% had diabetes, ranging from 2.0% among those aged 15-24 years to 50.8% of those aged 55-64 years. After adjusting for age and sex, diabetes was significantly more common among those of lower SES, whether measured by housing tenure, household income, or employment status. For example, compared with those living in a household that was owned/being purchased by its occupants, the relative odds of diabetes was 2.66 (95% confidence interval 1.71-4.15) for those living in rented/other accommodation. The inverse relationship between SES and diabetes was present even among those who had not previously been diagnosed with diabetes. The relationship between disadvantage and diabetes was not mediated to any great degree by obesity. CONCLUSIONS: The relationship between SES and diabetes among Indigenous Australians in this study is consistent with the patterns observed in developed countries, rather than those in some developing countries.