BACKGROUND Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). Intervention on cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) is essential to obtain clinical results reducing the excess of cardiovascular risk (CVR) in these patients. METHODS The objective of this study was to describe the association of type 2 DM with modifiable cardiovascular risk factors and the degree of control of these in a population of type 2 diabetics in attendance in primary care clinics, and also to establish prospectively whether an integral and multifactorial intervention on uncontrolled cardiovascular risk factors, carried out in conditions of routine clinical practice by applying an open protocol, could significantly reduce the estimated CVR according to the Framingham scale. The proposed intervention included both actions aimed at modifying habits, and pharmacologic intervention to achieve an optimum level of control in accordance with international recommendations for the objectives and treatment for type 2 diabetes. RESULTS A total of 3466 patients with a mean age of 58 +/- 7.5 years were studied and followed-up for 1 year. Of these, 90.4% of patients had high blood pressure; 60.1% of men and 32.7% of women presented CVR >20% in 10 years according to the Framingham scale by categories. Intervention at 1 year of follow-up had achieved statistically significant reductions in blood pressure, glycated hemoglobin, and lipid levels, but not of patients' body weight. After 1 year of follow-up, 29% of males and 24% of women with a high CVR (>20%) at the start of the study presented reduced risk levels. CONCLUSION The results of the study demonstrate that an integrated and multifactorial intervention in type 2 diabetic patients can achieve clinically significant reductions in CVR. However, conducted in effective conditions, it is not able to achieve optimum levels of control in spite of the initial proposal, possibly due to some degree of inertia in routine clinical practice.