We evaluated the relationships of red meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish intakes, as well as heme iron intake, with the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D).The Singapore Chinese Health Study is a population-based cohort study that recruited 63,257 Chinese adults aged 45-74 years from 1993 to 1998. Usual diet was evaluated using a validated 165-item semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire at recruitment. Physician-diagnosed T2D was self-reported during 2 follow-up interviews in 1999-2004 and 2006-2010. During a mean follow-up of 10.9 years, 5,207 incident cases of T2D were reported. When comparing persons in the highest intake quartiles with those in the lowest, the multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio for T2D was 1.23 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.14, 1.33) for red meat intake (P for trend < 0.001), 1.15 (95% CI: 1.06, 1.24) for poultry intake (P for trend = 0.004), and 1.07 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.16) for fish/shellfish intake (P for trend = 0.12). After additional adjustment for heme iron, only red meat intake remained significantly associated with T2D risk (multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio = 1.13, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.25; P for trend = 0.02). Heme iron was associated with a higher risk of T2D even after additional adjustment for red meat intake (multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.28; P for trend = 0.03). In conclusion, red meat and poultry intakes were associated with a higher risk of T2D. These associations were mediated completely for poultry and partially for red meat by heme iron intake.