OBJECTIVES To evaluate the prevalence of diabetes mellitus in older French subjects and to examine the different aspects of quality of life in an older diabetic population. DESIGN From a random sample of 2792 people older than age 65 living in the community, a diabetic sample was selected using three items from a questionnaire: Are you diabetic? Are you on a diabetic diet? What kind of medications do you take daily? Validation of the questionnaire was carried out previously to correct the observed prevalence. MEASUREMENTS The questionnaire assessed social and demographic aspects, physical, mental, and subjective health, and functional disabilities. Because quality of life assessment was mainly subjective, demented subjects were excluded. RESULTS The diabetic group consisted of 237 subjects from the older sample of 2792 (8.5%). No age difference was demonstrated between the two groups (mean, distribution), but the male/female ratio was significantly higher in those with diabetes (49.4% vs 39.3%, P = .003). Corrected prevalence of diabetes was 10.3%. After exclusion of demented subjects, 230/2726 people were investigated. Diabetic subjects were heavier (P < .001), had higher systolic blood pressure (P < .001), and had more frequent symptoms of ischemic heart disease (P < .001) and painful peripheral arterial disease (P < .001) and dyspnea (P < .001), but antecedents of stroke were similar in both groups. Diabetics were more often lacking in autonomy according to the IADL Lawton scale (P < .001), Rosow and Breslow scale (P < .001), and Mobility scale (P = .043), but not according to the Katz ADL scale. They more often exhibited symptoms of depression on the CES-D self-rating scale (21.3% vs 12.7%, P < .001), but evaluation of cognitive function was similar in both groups. Thirteen percent of diabetics, compared with 7.6% of non-diabetics, were unsatisfied with their own situation (P = .002). Health was rated as fair, bad, or very bad by 67.8% of diabetics compared with 49% of non-diabetics (P < .001). Diabetics rated themselves as feeling worse than others (15.3% vs 9.2%, P < < .001) and worried more about their health status (78% vs 63%, P < < .001). CONCLUSION The observed prevalence of diabetes in older French people living in the community was 8.5%. Quality of life in older diabetics was poorer than that of other people of the same age.