AIM: The purpose of the present study was to distinguish the effects of both diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM2) and diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN) on mobility, muscle strength and health related quality of life (HR-QoL). METHODS: DPN patients (n=98), DM2 patients without DPN (DC) (n=39) and healthy subjects (HC) (n=19) performed isometric and isokinetic lower limb muscle strength tests. Mobility was determined by a timed up and go test (TUGT), a 6min walk test and the physical activity scale for the elderly questionnaire. HR-QoL was determined by the SF36 questionnaire. RESULTS: DPN patients had moderate polyneuropathy. In both DPN and DC patients leg muscle strength was reduced by 30-50% compared to HC. Muscle strength was correlated with mobility tests, and reduced muscle strength as well as impaired mobility were associated with a loss of HR-Qol (all p<0.05). We did not observe major differences in muscle strength, mobility (except for the TUGT, p<0.01) and HR-QoL between diabetic patients with and without DPN. CONCLUSION: DM2 patients, with and without DPN, have decreased maximal muscle strength in the lower limbs and impaired mobility. These abnormalities are associated with a loss of HR-QoL. The additional effect of moderate DPN was small in our patients.