Clinical guidelines highlight the importance of dyslipidaemia management for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. While statins represent the main focus of therapy, there is increasing evidence that the addition of a fibrate such as fenofibrate provides further reduction in risk. Fenofibrate also offers a number of benefits beyond lipid modification; these are mediated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha (PPARalpha) activation and appear to be independent of effects of glucose and lipid metabolism. Furthermore, as shown by the Fenofibrate Intervention for Event Lowering in Diabetes (FIELD) study, fenofibrate treatment has promising effects in preventing progression of diabetes-related microvascular complications. PPARalpha is critical to lipid metabolism in the liver. Recent findings which showed that pioglitazone, a PPARgamma agonist with weak PPARalpha activity, improved fatty liver disease in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes have prompted interest in whether more potent PPARalpha agonists, such as fenofibrate, may have a role in the management of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The combination of fenofibrate and a statin is well tolerated, with no apparent increase in the risk of myopathy, unlike gemfibrozil-statin combination therapy. In overview, the available evidence indicates that the combination of fenofibrate with a statin is a useful approach for optimising reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, as well as delaying the progression of diabetes-related microvascular complications. Data are awaited from the ongoing Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) study to evaluate the outcome benefits of this approach.