Chronic complications of type 2 diabetes, in particular, macrovascular complications, confer substantial morbidity and mortality and adversely affect a patient's quality of life. Early intensive intervention to control cardiovascular risk factors is essential in clinical management. Atherogenic dyslipidaemia characterized by elevated triglycerides, a low level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and an increase in the preponderance of small, dense low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles, is a key modifiable risk factor for macrovascular diabetic complications. Lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) with a statin (or the combination of statin and ezetimibe) is the main focus for reducing cardiovascular risk in patients with diabetes. However, statins fail to address the residual cardiovascular risk associated with low HDL-C. Fibrates are effective against all components of the atherogenic dyslipidaemia associated with type 2 diabetes. Secondary analyses of the Fenofibrate Intervention and Event Lowering in Diabetes (FIELD) study suggest a role for early treatment with fenofibrate in improving cardiovascular risk reduction in type 2 diabetes and provide safety data supporting the use of fenofibrate in combination with a statin. Data from the FIELD study suggest that fenofibrate may also have potential to impact on microvascular diabetic complications associated with type 2 diabetes. Data are awaited from the ongoing Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) study to evaluate the outcome benefits of combining fenofibrate with a statin in patients with type 2 diabetes. Finally, in view of divergent study results and outstanding data, assessment of the risk of the individual with type 2 diabetes is mandatory to assist clinical decision-making when initiating lipid therapy.