This study examined the relationship between hospital admissions for patients with diabetes mellitus and residence in an area of social deprivation. Admissions of patients with diabetes mellitus were identified during a 5-year period between 1987 and 1992 using the district patient information service. All persons admitted were assigned to an electoral ward on the basis of their postcode. Age standardized admission rates were compared to the Townsend Deprivation Score for each electoral ward. A positive correlation was found between age standardized admission rate and Townsend Score (r = 0.76, p < 0.001). We believe this has significance for planning health care resources.