In healthy subjects, standing elicits a reduction in blood flow to the skin of the foot. In adults with insulin dependent diabetes this posturally induced response is deficient, resulting in capillary hypertension when the foot is in the dependent position (that is, below heart level). Such functional abnormalities of the microcirculation in diabetes may precede any evidence of clinically detectable microangiopathy. This study investigates the posturally induced change in blood flow to the skin of the foot in prepubertal and postpubertal patients with insulin dependent diabetes. Laser Doppler fluximetry was used to assess the postural change in blood flow at the pulp of the great toe. Postural vasoconstriction (dependent flux value/supine flux value x 100) was greater after puberty in normal subjects (median (range) 60.4 (7.0-164.9)% prepubertal v 20.5 (5.9-101.0)% postpubertal). Prepubertal children with diabetes did not differ from their healthy peers (69.8 (7.2-192.7)% with diabetes v 60.4 (7.0-164.9)% controls); however postpubertal children with diabetes had a significantly impaired postural vasoconstriction (40.6 (7.9-140.2)% with diabetes v 20.5 (5.9-101.7)% controls). Abnormalities in the normal reduction of blood flow on standing occurred in young postpubertal children with diabetes, most of whom were free of complications.