Prevalence of complications of type 2 diabetes in a remote Australian Indigenous community was measured as part of a population survey of risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Information was obtained from history, clinical examination, blood sample and medical records. Forty-three diabetic participants (six newly diagnosed) were assessed from a sample of 339 (12% diabetes prevalence); mean age 50 (range 31-67), duration of diabetes 5.6 (0-15) years, 40% male. Risk factors/complications: 70% with >/= 25, 50% cigarette smokers, HbA1c 8.5 (S.D. 2.9)%, cholesterol 4.8 (0.8)mmol/l, triglycerides 2.7 (1.6)mmol/l, HDL 0.83 (0.2)mmol/l; 60% had albuminuria (micro 38%, macro 22%), 47% were hypertensive, 7% (n = 2) had retinopathy, 24% had peripheral neuropathy, none had peripheral vascular disease, 14% had documented coronary vascular and one participant cerebrovascular disease. Of 37 with previously diagnosed diabetes: 43% were on aspirin, 65% on metformin, 80% with albuminuria on ACE inhibitors. Four additional diabetic participants (not studied) were receiving renal dialysis elsewhere. The results demonstrate on the one hand, very high indices of cardiovascular risk (smoking, hypertension, dyslipidaemia and albuminuria) and on the other, good quality primary health care providing good detection and follow up management of type 2 diabetic patients.