Erythrocyte deformability, blood viscosity and other rheological variables were measured in 30 diabetics and 28 normal control subjects. Measurements of red cell rheology were made simultaneously by filtration of whole blood, centrifugation and viscometry of packed red cells. The diabetics showed a significant reduction of erythrocyte deformability measured by filtration, an increase in flexibility measured by centrifugation and values similar to normals for viscometry of packed red cells. Plasma viscosity but not whole blood viscosity (shear rates 23 and 230 s-1) was increased in the diabetics. Erythrocyte flexibility as measured by centrifugation was significantly related to blood viscosity and plasma fibrinogen and glucose in the diabetics, however, neither filtration nor viscometry of packed red cells correlated with other rheological variables. It seems likely that multiple rheological abnormalities are present in diabetes mellitus. Conclusions about erythrocyte rheology in particular will depend critically on the methodology used.