A time-delayed fluorescence immunoassay was developed for the determination of serum levels of methylglyoxal (MG)-derived hydroimidazolone using a monoclonal antiserum raised against Nalpha-acetyl-Ndelta-(5-hydro-5-methyl)-4-imidazolone, Europium-labeled anti-mouse IgG antiserum as indicator, and MG modified bovine serum albumin (BSA) as standard. Serum levels of hydroimidazolone were measured in 45 patients with type 2 diabetes aged 59.4 +/- 6.1 (mean +/- SD) years and with duration of diabetes of 7.3 +/- 3.1 years, and in 19 nondiabetic controls aged 56.3 +/- 4.3 years. The serum levels of hydroimidazolone were significantly higher in patients compared to controls: median, 3.0 (5-95 percentile, 1.6 to 5.4) U/mg protein versus 1.9 (1.2 to 2.8) U/mg protein (P =.0005). Significant positive correlations were observed between the serum levels of hydroimidazolone and serum levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), measured with a polyclonal anti-AGE antibody: r = 0.59 for patients (P <.0001), and r = 0.65 for controls (P =.002). Similarly, significant correlations were also found between serum levels of hydroimidazolone and N(epsilon)-(carboxymethyl)-lysine (CML): r = 0.36 in patients and r = 0.55 for controls (both P =.02). Serum hydroimidazolone levels did not correlate with fasting plasma glucose or hemoglobin A(1c) (HbA(1c)) levels. The observed differences between patients with diabetes and nondiabetic controls seem to be comparable to differences measured for other AGE compounds.