Paraoxonase (PON) is a high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-associated esterase, which may prevent the transformation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) into biologically active, atherogenic particles. PON concentration and activity are affected by PON1 gene polymorphisms and found to be altered in type 2 diabetes patients with retinopathy. We investigated serum PON concentration, in vitro activity and polymorphism at position 54 (L/M, Leu-Met54) in 193 Caucasian adolescents and young adults (88 males, 105 females) with type 1 diabetes mellitus, as well as its relationship to the presence of retinopathy. An inverse linear correlation was found between blood glucose levels and both serum PON concentration (r = -.20, P =.017) and its activity (r = -0.17, P =.037). Patients with elevated blood glucose values (> or =10 mmol/L) had significantly lower levels of both PON concentration (P =.003) and activity (P =.028) than those with lower glucose levels. After adjusting for blood glucose and diabetes duration, PON activity was significantly higher in patients with different stages of retinopathy compared with those without retinopathy (P =.003). The L/L genotype was closely associated with the presence of retinopathy (P <.0001). These data show that young people with type 1 diabetes and the L/L polymorphism at position 54 of PON1 gene are more susceptible to retinal complications. However, the role of serum PON concentration and activity as a possible marker for monitoring late microvascular complications in these patients has to be established.