Diabetes mellitus and glucose dysregulation have significant effects on the circulating level of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs), In the present study, serum and urine IGFBP (IGFBP-1, -2, and -3) and serum IGF-I and -II levels were measured by radioimmunoassay (RIA) in 27 patients with type 1 diabetes aged 9 to 48 years compared with 9 healthy subjects aged 10 to 28 years. The patients were divided into 3 groups according to the amount of albumin excreted in 24 hours. The macroalbuminuria group (>500 mg/24 h) had elevated serum IGFBP-1 and -2 and decreased IGF-I levels (P < .01 v normal controls). Serum IGFBP-3 and IGF-II were not different among the patient groups and controls (P > .05), The mean urinary IGFBP-1 was decreased in all 3 patient groups compared with the controls (P < .05). Urinary IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-3 were increased in patients with macroalbuminuria. Immunoblot analysis showed increased low-molecular-weight fragments of urinary IGFBP-2 in the poorly controlled diabetics, and direct evidence for increased urinary IGFBP-2 proteolytic activity could be demonstrated in both the microalbuminuric and macroalbuminuric groups. Low-molecular-weight fragments of urinary IGFBP-3 were also increased in both the microalbuminuric and macroalbuminuric groups, In conclusion, alterations of IGFBPs in urine and serum are related to metabolic control in diabetic patients, and there is an increase of urinary IGFBP-2 protease activity in poorly controlled diabetics. The changes in serum IGFBP concentrations (eg, increases in IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2) may lead to alterations in the availability of IGF-I to peripheral tissues. Copyright (C) 2000 by W.B. Saunders Company.