OBJECTIVE: Disease management programmes (DMP) are supposed to improve the care of patients with type 2 diabetes or other chronic conditions. One stated aim is the improvement of the health-related quality of life. Within the ELSID study (controlled study for the evaluation of the DMP for patients with type 2 diabetes) there has been a survey of insurants of the general regional health funds (AOK) by means of the SF-36. The aim of this survey is a comparison of patients participating in the Diabetes DMP with those who are not participating in the program with regard to their quality of life. METHODS: A random sample of 3,546 patients with type 2 diabetes out of the total sample of the ELSID study (20,625) was asked to complete the SF-36. RESULTS: 1,532 questionnaires were returned (response rate 43.2%). 1,399 were analysed. Within all scales of the SF-36, men achieved higher scores than women. Differentiated in participants and non-participants in the DMP, in men there were lower scores for the participants than for the non-participants. In women this proportion was reversed. CONCLUSIONS: This cross-sectional-study provides first indications for gender-specific differences within the quality of life of patients with diabetes participating in the DMP compared to patients who are not participating. These differences should be considered more intensely within further research of DMP evaluation and the configuration of the programmes in the future.