Avoiding serious complications such as stroke, myocardial infarction, and amputations in diabetes patients is the main interest of long-term treatment. Given the considerable prevalence of diabetes type 2 in industrialized countries this is a major public health concern as well as a burden to health care systems. The present study estimated the current risk of major complications occurring in the German diabetes type 2 population and explored the potential for further risk reduction. Risk reduction can be achieved when physiological and behavioral parameters (HbAlc, blood pressure, cholesterol level, body mass index, smoking) are set to target values recommended in guidelines. To estimate individual risk and potential risk reduction the multifactor disease model Mellibase was employed. Data were obtained from the German Health Survey of 1998, which includes a sample of 7,124 individuals representative of the German population. The survey shows a prevalence rate of 6.3% for diabetes type 2 in persons older than 35 years. The analyses reveal that the overall potential for risk reduction is moderate (e.g., the average reduction potential of the 10-year risk of stroke is 5.7%). A majority of parameter ranges found in the patient population are either already close to the recommended values (HbA1c), are not alarmingly higher than in the general population (blood pressure) or have little impact on risk reduction. In addition nonmodifiable risk factors such as duration of the illness and advanced age constrain possible improvements. However, there is a wide variation in the actual risk between individuals (e.g., the 10-year risk of stroke varies between 2.2% and 79.8%), and thus a wide variation in potential risk reduction (the risk reduction potential for stroke varies between 0% and 53.4%). Intensified treatment should therefore (a) focus on relevant subgroups of patients taking their risk reduction potential into account and (b) aim at improvement in the overall metabolic profile rather than concentrating on single risk factors.