OBJECTIVE To investigate the self-management behaviors of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) in a community and to explore the relationship between self-management behaviors and the glycemic control. METHODS A total of 211 type 2 DM patients in a community were selected by stratified random sampling. Patients were grouped according to the scores of self-management behaviors. The fasting plasma glucose (FPG), 2 h postprandial plasma glucose (2hPG) and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) level were tested. The differences between groups and relationship between self-management behaviors and glycemic control were analyzed. RESULTS Self-management behaviors of most patients were not effective, and 2hPG and HbA1C were affected by different levels of the self-management behaviors (P<0.05). The self-management behaviors were negatively related to FPG (r=-0.277, P=0.015), 2hPG (r=-0.453, P=0.001), and HbA1C (r=-0.435, P=0.001). Glycemic control of the patients whose course of disease was over 5 years was significantly different due to different self-management behaviors. FPG level of the patients was positively related to alimentary control. The 2hPG level of the patients was positively related to alimentary control, medication persistence, and blood glucose self-monitoring. The HbA1C level of the patients was positively related to alimentary control and medication persistence. The times the patients received DM education, the way to use insulin, and the disease course of the patients were important factors to affect self-management behaviors of type 2 DM in the community. CONCLUSION Self-management behaviors of type 2 DM patients in the community are not effective. Satisfactory self-management behaviors, specially the control of 2hPG and HbA1C are beneficial to glycemic control. We can improve the self-management behaviors in type 2 DM patients by paying attention to the disease course, the treatment method, and the contents and effect of DM education.