In the present study, we evaluated O-6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) activity in diabetic patients. The study was performed on 27 patients with Type 1 diabetes, and 42 with Type 2 diabetes. Patients with complications were excluded from the study. 36 non-diabetic volunteers, non-smokers who do not consume alcoholic beverage, were chosen from the medical staff as control subjects. MGMT activity was measured by the transfer of radiolabeled methyl groups from a prepared methylguanine-DNA substrate to the enzyme fraction of leukocyte extract. Leukocyte MGMT activity was significantly reduced in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients as compared with control subjects (P < 0.001). The present study demonstrates decreased MGMT activity in leukocytes from patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.