The study on lifestyle-intervention and impaired glucose tolerance Maastricht (SLIM) is a 3 years randomised clinical trial designed to evaluate the effect of a combined diet and physical activity intervention program on glucose tolerance in a Dutch population at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Here the design of the lifestyle-intervention study is described and results are presented from the preliminary population screening, conducted between March 1999 and June 2000. In total, 2820 subjects with an increased risk of having disturbances in glucose homeostasis (i.e. age >40 years and BMI > 25 kg/m(2) or a family history of diabetes) underwent a first oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Abnormal glucose homeostasis was detected in 826 subjects (30.4%): 226 type 2 diabetes (type 2DM, 8.3%), 215 impaired fasting glucose (IFG, 7.9%) and 385 impaired glucose tolerance (IGT, 14.2%). Both increasing age and BMI were strongly related to the prevalence of IGT and diabetes. After a second OGTT, 114 subjects with glucose intolerance and in otherwise good health were eligible for participation in the intervention study (SLIM). The high prevalence of disturbances in glucose homeostasis observed in the preliminary screening underscore the importance of early (lifestyle) interventions in those at risk for developing diabetes. SLIM will address this topic in the Dutch population. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.