OBJECTIVE To compare the effectiveness of a group-based rehabilitation programme with an individual counselling programme at improving glycaemic control and cardiovascular risk factors among patients with type 2 diabetes. METHODS We randomised 143 adult type 2 diabetes patients to either a 6-month multidisciplinary group-based rehabilitation programme or a 6-month individual counselling programme. Outcome measures included glycated haemoglobin (HbA(1c)), blood pressure, lipid profile, weight, and waist circumference. RESULTS Mean HbA(1c) decreased 0.3%-point (95% confidence interval [CI] = -0.5, -0.1) in the rehabilitation group and 0.6%-point (95% CI = -0.8, -0.4) among individual counselling participants (p<0.05). Within both groups, equal reductions occurred in body weight, waist circumference, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure, but no significant between-group differences between occurred for any of the cardiovascular outcomes. The group-based rehabilitation programme consumed twice as many personnel resources. CONCLUSION The group-based rehabilitation programme resulted in changes in glycaemic control and cardiovascular risk factor reduction that were equivalent or inferior to those of an individual counselling programme. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS The group-based rehabilitation programme, tested in the current design, did not offer additionally improved outcomes and consumed more personnel resources than the individual counselling programme; its broad implementation is not supported by this study. Trial registration Clinicaltrials.gov NCT00284609.