BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to investigate the distribution and association of selected risk factors for diabetes mellitus in a semi-rural Palestinian village. MATERIAL/METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional, population-based study of 500 adults aged 30 to 65 in a semi-rural Palestinian village. The study included two phases: a household survey and an individual assessment utilizing the oral glucose tolerance test OGTT to determine the diabetes status of the participants, anthropometric measurements for body mass index (BMI) and waist-hip ratio (WHR), blood biochemistry measurements for lipids, blood pressure measurement, and a standard questionnaire to assess demographic and other factors. RESULTS: The association between various risk factors and diabetes status was explored by comparing statistical means and proportions and crude and adjusted odds ratios (OR). A multivariate logistic regression using sex and seven factors initially found to be significantly associated with diabetes identified four factors that remained significantly associated with diabetes after adjustment for age and sex. The four main factors are age (OR = 1.08, 95%CI = 1.05-1.12), positive family history of diabetes (OR = 3.09, 95%CI = 1.53-6.24), triglycerides (OR = 1.006, 95%CI = 1.002-1.009), and WHR (OR = 2.13, 95%CI =1.31-3.45). CONCLUSIONS: Two factors associated with diabetes are potentially modifiable in this Palestinian population: WHR and triglyceride levels. These should be addressed by preventive health activities, including health promotion. The association between diabetes and age supports the conclusion that the prevalence of diabetes is expected to increase with the aging of the population.