BACKGROUND: The aim of the present study was to evaluate insulin resistance (IR), glucose tolerance status and cardiovascular risk factors in first degree relatives of patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). METHODS: A total of 120 family members [Mothers(PCOS) (n=40), Fathers(PCOS) (n=38), Sisters(PCOS) (n=25) and Brothers(PCOS) (n=17)] of 55 patients with PCOS and 75 unrelated healthy control subjects without a family history of diabetes or PCOS (four age- and weight-matched subgroups, i.e. Control(Mothers), Control(Fathers), Control(Sisters) and Control(Brothers)) were studied. IR was assessed by homeostatic model assessment (HOMA IR), log HOMA, insulin sensivity index (ISI), the quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI) and area under the curve for insulin during the oral glucose tolerance test (AUCI, AUCG) in with normal glucose tolerance (NGT) subjects and controls. Serum adiponectin, resistin, homocysteine and lipid levels were measured. RESULTS: The prevalence of any degree of glucose intolerance was 40% in Mothers(PCOS) and 52% in Fathers(PCOS). In total, six (15%) glucose tolerance disorders were identified in the Control(Mothers) and Control(Fathers) in first degree relatives of control subjects. The first degree relatives of PCOS patients had significantly higher serum fasting insulin, HOMA-IR, Log HOMA and AUCI levels in all subgroups than the control subjects. The control subjects had significantly elevated QUCKI, ISI levels and serum adiponectin levels compared to the first degree relatives of PCOS subjects in all subgroups. The serum Hcy and resistin levels increased significantly in both Fathers(PCOS) and Mothers(PCOS) groups but not Brothers(PCOS) and Sister(PCOS). CONCLUSION: The results of the present study support the finding that the first degree relatives of PCOS patients carry an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, as do PCOS patients.