The prevalence of diabetes mellitus and impaired glucose tolerance was investigated in a cross-sectional population-based study in a rural Palestinian population of 500 females and males aged 30-65 years. The prevalence of diabetes was 9.6% and 10.0% in females and males respectively. The prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance was 8.6%; 10.3% in females, 6.2% in males. The prevalence of total glucose intolerance (diabetes mellitus + impaired glucose tolerance) was 18.4%. Our study provides the first baseline data on diabetes mellitus and impaired glucose tolerance in Palestine. The results indicate a high prevalence of glucose intolerance, information that is essential for the implementation of national planning and service provision.