Specific causes of death in diabetic patients was studied in retrospective work from necropsies performed at the Medicine School of the University of São Paulo from 1931 until 1989. From 145,043 necropsies, 813 indexed cases were found: 449 females (55.2%) and 364 males (44.8%). The race ratio of patients was: 584 (71.8%) white, 208 (25.6%) negro and 21 (2.6%) asiatic. The predominant age of death incidence was between the fifth and sixth decades. The main causes reported were infections (42.68%), coma (12.79%), neurologic involvement (11.56%) and cardiac diseases (11.07%); indeterminate causes of death were related in 7.4% of cases. Our results differ from the others of literature mainly in two points: the high prevalence of infectious diseases and the proportional low incidence of cardiopathies. We concluded that, in our casuistic, infectious diseases in diabetic patients represent an important cause of death establishing important clinical parameters for their care.