The study of diabetic neuropathy has been primarily in Europids, despite the high prevalence of diabetes in other populations. We set out to ascertain the prevalence of diabetic neuropathy and its risk factors in the island nation of Mauritius. Population surveys were carried out in 1987 and 1992 in Mauritius to establish the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes. In the second survey, vibration perception threshold (VPT) was also measured at the great toe in 847 subjects with diabetes, 204 subjects with impaired glucose tolerance and 127 subjects with normal glucose tolerance. Neuropathy was defined as levels of VPT exceeding the mean plus 2 standard deviations defined separately for three age groups of Mauritian non-diabetic subjects. Risk factors for neuropathy were identified cross sectionally from the 1992 data, and longitudinally from the 1987 data. Neuropathy was detected in 8.3% of the 847 diabetic subjects (12.7%) of those with known diabetes, and 3.6% of those with newly diagnosed diabetes). Logistic regression identified diabetes duration (odds ratio [95% CI]; 1.08 [1.04-1.13] per year, P=0.0002), treatment with insulin or oral hypoglycaemic agents (2.63 [1.36-5.09], P=0.004) and greater height (1.36 [1.19-1.57] per 5 cm, P < 0.001) as risk factors for neuropathy, in the cross sectional analysis. In the longitudinal analysis, diabetes duration (1.11 [1.05-1.18] per year, P=0.001), fasting glucose (1.12 [1.03-1.22] per mmol/l, P=0.01) and height (1.23 [1.03-1.45] per 5 cm, P=0.02) were associated with neuropathy. A lower 2-h plasma insulin was also associated with neuropathy in the longitudinal analysis. The prevalence of diabetic neuropathy in Mauritius is the lowest reported for any population, but the risk factors associated with it are similar to those previously found.