Although type 1 and type 2 diabetes are strongly associated with systemic cardiovascular morbidity, the relationship with pulmonary vascular disease had been almost disregarded until recent epidemiological data revealed that diabetes might be a risk factor for pulmonary hypertension. Recent experimental studies suggest that diabetes induces changes in lung function insufficient to elevate pulmonary pressure. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of diabetes on the sensitivity to other risk factors for pulmonary hypertension. We therefore analysed the effects of the combination of diabetes with exposure to moderate hypoxia on classical markers of pulmonary hypertension. Control (saline-treated) and diabetic (70 mg kg-1 streptozotocin-treated) male WistarKyoto rats were followed for 4 weeks and exposed to normoxia or moderate normobaric hypoxia (14%) for another 2 weeks. Hypoxia, but not diabetes, strongly reduced voltage-gated potassium currents, whereas diabetes, but not hypoxia, induced pulmonary artery endothelial dysfunction. Both factors independently induced pulmonary vascular remodelling and downregulated the lung bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2. However, diabetes, but not hypoxia, induced pulmonary infiltration of macrophages, which was markedly increased when both factors were combined. Diabetes plus hypoxia induced a modest increase in diastolic and mean pulmonary artery pressure and right ventricular weight, while each of the two factors alone had no significant effect. The pattern of changes in markers of pulmonary hypertension was different for moderate hypoxia and diabetes, with no synergic effect except for macrophage recruitment, and the combination of both factors was required to induce a moderate elevation in pulmonary arterial pressure.