Recent studies implicate hyperglycemia as an important cause of macrovascular and ocular complications in diabetes mellitus. In this study, the authors examined the effect of high glucose on macrovascular and microvascular endothelial cell viability and apoptosis in culture. Human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs) and human retinal endothelial cells (HRECs) were exposed to normal-glucose conditions (NG) and high-glucose conditions (NG supplemented with 25 mM D-glucose) for 72 h in vitro. D-Mannitol was used as an osmotic control. Cell viability was assessed by methlythiazolydiphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, and induction of apoptosis was assessed by Hoechst staining. Statistics were analyzed by paired t tests. In HAECs, cell viability was decreased by 12.9% in high-glucose conditions, and apoptotic cells were significantly increased by 77%. However, in HRECs, cell viability was increased by 14.9% in high-glucose conditions, and apoptotic cells were significantly decreased by 33.3%. Mannitol did not show any effect on cell survival or apoptosis ruling out an osmotic effect. High-glucose conditions reduce cell viability and induce apoptosis in HAECs, which may contribute to macrovascular complications associated with diabetes. In contrast, high-glucose increases viability in HRECs and inhibits apoptosis, which may contribute to the development of diabetic retinopathy.