Erythrocyte oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus, and the deficiency of antioxidant defense by the glutathione (GSH) pathway is thought to be one of the factors responsible for development of complications in diabetes. Erythrocytes require L-cysteine for the synthesis of GSH and the rate of synthesis is determined only by L-cysteine availability. In the present study we have found that the L-cysteine influx in erythrocytes from type 2 diabetic patients was significantly lower compared to age-matched controls. The decreased influx may be one of the factors leading to low GSH concentration observed in type 2 diabetes. Since L-cysteine is the limiting amino acid in GSH synthesis, any strategy aimed to increase L-cysteine influx in erythrocytes may be beneficial for type 2 diabetic patients.