BACKGROUND: Recent studies have linked plasma markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction to type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) development. However, the utility of these novel biomarkers for type 2 DM risk prediction remains uncertain. METHODS: The Women's Health Initiative Observational Study (WHIOS), a prospective cohort, and a nested case-control study within the WHIOS of 1584 incident type 2 DM cases and 2198 matched controls were used to evaluate the utility of plasma markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction for type 2 DM risk prediction. Between September 1994 and December 1998, 93 676 women aged 50 to 79 years were enrolled in the WHIOS. Fasting plasma levels of glucose, insulin, white blood cells, tumor necrosis factor receptor 2, interleukin 6, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, E-selectin, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1, and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 were measured using blood samples collected at baseline. A series of prediction models including traditional risk factors and novel plasma markers were evaluated on the basis of global model fit, model discrimination, net reclassification improvement, and positive and negative predictive values. RESULTS: Although white blood cell count and levels of interleukin 6, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1 significantly enhanced model fit, none of the inflammatory and endothelial dysfunction markers improved the ability of model discrimination (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.93 vs 0.93), net reclassification, or predictive values (positive, 0.22 vs 0.24; negative, 0.99 vs 0.99 [using 15% 6-year type 2 DM risk as the cutoff]) compared with traditional risk factors. Similar results were obtained in ethnic-specific analyses. CONCLUSION: Beyond traditional risk factors, measurement of plasma markers of systemic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction contribute relatively little additional value in clinical type 2 DM risk prediction in a multiethnic cohort of postmenopausal women.