Fibroblasts from 3 diabetic patients (DF) grew faster, resulting in higher cell counts in the stationary phase than fibroblasts from 3 age-matched healthy volunteers (NF). This difference was apparent when DF or NF were cultured in either diabetic (DS) or normal serum (NS). Diabetic serum increased growth of both DF and NF compared with normal serum. Total protein content per plate paralleled the increase of cell number per plate in relation to cell origin and serum type. DS increased growth and total protein per plate in the arterial smooth muscle cell line from a non-diabetic patient in a way similar to in DF and NF. It is concluded that increased growth of DF in vivo could result in an increased turnover of vascular cells with a shortened replicative lifespan, leading to an accumulation of basal lamina. This effect would be even further accentuated by exposure of DF to DS. Taken together with the increased protein synthesis the accelerated development of diabetic angiopathy could be the final consequence.