© 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. Aims/hypothesis: The aim of this study was to determine whether long-term intra-individual variability in fasting glucose (FG) during young adulthood is associated with incident diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality. Methods: We included participants from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, ages 18–30 years at baseline (1985–1986) and followed with eight examinations for up to 30 years. Long-term glucose variability was assessed using the CV (CV-FG) and the absolute difference between successive FG measurements (average real variability; ARV-FG). For participants who developed any event (diabetes, CVD or mortality), FG variability measurement was censored at the examination prior to event ascertainment. We estimated HRs for incident diabetes, CVD and mortality with adjustment for demographics, baseline FG, change in FG (censor – baseline) and time-varying education, smoking, alcohol consumption, BMI, physical activity, systolic BP, BP medications, LDL-cholesterol and cholesterol medications (and incident diabetes and diabetes medications for CVD and mortality outcomes). Results: Among 3769 black and white participants, there were 317 incident diabetes cases (102,677 person-years), 159 incident CVD events (110,314 person-years) and 174 deaths (111,390 person-years). After adjustment, HRs per 1 SD higher ARV-FG were 1.64 (95% CI 1.52, 1.78) for diabetes, 1.15 (95% CI 1.01, 1.31) for CVD and 1.25 (95% CI 1.11, 1.40) for mortality. The HRs per 1 SD higher CV-FG were 1.39 (95% CI 1.21, 1.58) for diabetes, 1.32 (95% CI 1.13, 1.54) for CVD and 1.08 (95% CI 0.92, 1.27) for mortality, after adjustment. The cause-specific HRs per 1 SD higher ARV-FG were 1.29 (95% CI 1.14, 1.47) for non-CVD death and 1.05 (95% CI 0.76, 1.45) for CVD death. We did not observe evidence for effect modification of any association by sex or race. Conclusions/interpretation: Our results suggest that higher intra-individual FG variability during young adulthood before the onset of diabetes is associated with incident diabetes, CVD and mortality.