Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a risk factor for incident heart failure (HF) in older adults. However, the extent to which this association is independent of other risk factors remains unclear. Of 5,464 community-dwelling adults <65 years old in the Cardiovascular Health Study without baseline HF, 862 had DM (fasting plasma glucose levels <126 mg/dl or treatment with insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents). Propensity scores for DM were estimated for each of the 5,464 participants and were used to assemble a cohort of 717 pairs of participants with and without DM who were balanced in 65 baseline characteristics. Incident HF occurred in 31% and 26% of matched participants with and without DM, respectively, during >13 years of follow-up (hazard ratio 1.45 for DM vs no DM, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.14 to 1.86, p = 0.003). Of the 5,464 participants before matching unadjusted and multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios for incident HF associated with DM were 2.22 (95% CI 1.94 to 2.55, p <0.001) and 1.52 (95% CI 1.30 to 1.78, p <0.001), respectively. All-cause mortality occurred in 57% and 47% of matched participants with and without DM, respectively (hazard ratio 1.35, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.61, p = 0.001). Of matched participants DM-associated hazard ratios for incident peripheral arterial disease, incident acute myocardial infarction, and incident stroke were 2.50 (95% CI 1.45 to 4.32, p = 0.001), 1.37 (95% CI 0.97 to 1.93, p = 0.072), and 1.11 (95% CI 0.81 to 1.51, p = 0.527), respectively. In conclusion, the association of DM with incident HF and all-cause mortality in community-dwelling older adults without HF is independent of major baseline cardiovascular risk factors. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.