Aims/hypothesis: The aim of the study was to describe trends in the incidence rate, prevalence and mortality rate for diabetes in Denmark. Methods: Healthcare registers at the National Board of Health were used to compile a register of diabetic patients in the Danish population (5.4 million people). Age- and sex-specific prevalence, incidence rates, mortality rates and standardised mortality ratios relative to the non-diabetic part of the population were calculated. Results: The register contains records for about 360,000 persons with diabetes; 230,000 were alive at 1 January 2007, corresponding to an overall prevalence of 4.2%. The prevalence increased by 6% per year. In 2004 the incidence rates were 1.8 per 100,000 at age 40 years and 10.0 per 100,000 at age 70 years. The incidence rate increased 5% per year before 2004 and then stabilised. The mortality rate in the diabetic population decreased 4% per year, compared with 2% per year in the non-diabetic part of the population. The mortality rate decreased 40% during the first 3 years after inclusion in the register. The standardised mortality ratio decreased with age, from 4.0 at age 50 years to 2.5 at age 70 years and just under 2 at age 85 years, identically for men and women. The standardised mortality ratio decreased 1% per calendar year. The lifetime risk of diabetes was 30%. Conclusions/interpretation: The prevalence of diabetes in Denmark rose in 1995-2006, but the mortality rate in diabetic patients decreased faster than that of the non-diabetic population. The mortality rate decreased markedly just after inclusion in the register. Incidence rates have shown a tendency to decrease during the last few years, but this finding should be viewed with caution.