OBJECTIVE: To describe the incidence of different stages of glucose intolerance in a population from Mauritius followed over 11 years. RESEARCH DESIGN, METHODS AND SUBJECTS: Population-based surveys were undertaken in the multi-ethnic nation of Mauritius in 1987, 1992 and 1998 with 5083, 6616 and 6291 participants, respectively. Questionnaires, anthropometric measurements, and a 2-h 75-g oral glucose tolerance test were included. Three cohorts aged between 25 and 79 years with classifiable glucose tolerance data were identified; 3680 between 1987 and 1992, 4178 between 1992 and 1998, and 2631 between 1987 and 1998. Glucose tolerance was classified according to WHO 1999 criteria. RESULTS: The incidence rate of type 2 diabetes was higher between 1992 and 1998 than between 1987 and 1992. In men, the incidence was similar between cohorts (24.5 and 25.4 per 1000 person-years) whereas the incidence increased in women (23.3 and 16.4 per 1000 person-years). The incidence of diabetes peaked in the 45-54 year age group and then plateaued or fell. The incidences of impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and impaired fasting glucose (IFG) decreased in both men and women. Of normoglycaemic subjects at baseline, more women than men developed IGT and more men than women developed IFG. Of those labelled as IFG in 1987, 38% developed diabetes after 11 years. The corresponding figure for IGT was 46%. CONCLUSIONS: In this study, we report changes in incidence rates of glucose intolerance over a 11-year period. In particular, differences between men and women were observed. The increased incidence of IGT in women compared with men, and increased incidence of IFG in men compared with women was consistent with, and explains the sex biases seen in the prevalences of these states.