Large-scale, centrally-coordinated screening for undiagnosed type 2 diabetes is an attractive option to reduce the mortality and morbidity resulting from inadequately controlled diabetes. However, there is limited research examining the direct consequences of such screening programmes on outcomes such as cardiovascular disease and death. Two papers published in this edition of Diabetologia (DOIs: 10.1007/s00125-017-4323-2 and 10.1007/s00125-017-4299-y ) examine data from one of the very few trials conducted in this area. Overall, there was little benefit that could be directly related to the screening programme. In part, this was due to the high levels of opportunistic screening in the control group. Thus, when there are high levels of opportunistic screening for type 2 diabetes, there remains no clear evidence of benefit of centrally-coordinated screening programmes that approach individuals outside usual healthcare settings.