Objectives. Screening for type 2 diabetes has been recommended and targeted screening might be an efficient way to screen. The aim was to investigate whether diabetic patients identified by a targeted screening procedure differ from newly diagnosed diabetic patients in general practice with regard to the prevalence of macrovascular complications. Design. Cross-sectional population-based study. Setting. Population study, primary care. Subjects. Diabetic patients identified by a population-based targeted screening procedure (SDM patients), consisting of a screening questionnaire and a fasting capillary glucose measurement followed by diagnostic testing, were compared with newly diagnosed diabetic patients in general practice (GPDM patients). Ischaemic heart disease and prior myocardial infarction were assessed by ECG recording. Peripheral arterial disease was assessed by the ankle-arm index. Intima-media thickness of the right common carotid artery was measured with ultrasound. Results. A total of 195 SDM patients and 60 GPDM patients participated in the medical examination. The prevalence of MI was 13.3% (95% CI 9.3-18.8%) and 3.4% (1.0-11.7%) in SDM patients and GPDM patients respectively. The prevalence of ischaemic heart disease was 39.5% (95% CI 32.9-46.5%) in SDM patients and 24.1% (15.0-36.5%) in GPDM patients. The prevalence of peripheral arterial disease was similar in both groups: 10.6% (95% CI 6.9-15.9%) and 10.2% (4.7-20.5%) respectively. Mean intima-media thickness was 0.85 mm (±0.17) in SDM patients and 0.90 mm (±0.20) in GPDM patients. The difference in intima-media thickness was not statistically significant. Conclusions. Targeted screening identified patients with a prevalence of macrovascular complications similar to that of patients detected in general practice, but with a lower degree of hyperglycaemia.