INTRODUCTION: This retrospective cohort study investigated the relation between different measures of glycemic exposure and micro- and macrovascular complications among patients with type 2 diabetes. METHODS: The analysis included patients receivinoral antihyperglycemic agents between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2014 from the General Practitioner Database from the PHARMO Database Network. All recorded HbA1c levels during follow-up were used to express glycemic exposure in four ways: index HbA1c, time-dependent HbA1c, exponential moving average (EMA) and glycemic burden. Association between glycemic exposure and micro-/macrovascular complications was analyzed by estimating hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals using an adjusted (time-dependent) Cox proportional hazards model. RESULTS: The analysis included 32,725 patients (median age, 65 years; 47% female). Median follow-up was 5.4 years; median number of HbA1c measurements per patient was 18.0. From all measures, HbA1c at index showed the weakest relation between all micro-/macrovascular complications, with coronary artery disease (CAD) having the highest HR (95% CI): 1.18 (1.04-1.34) for HbA1c >/=64 mmol/mol (8%). The time-dependent HbA1c model showed a significant association only for microvascular complications, with retinopathy having the highest HR (95% CI): 1.55 (1.40-1.73) for HbA1c >/=64 mmol/mol (8%). EMA-defined exposure showed similar findings, although the effect of retinopathy was more pronounced [HR (95% CI): 1.81 (1.63-2.02) for HbA1c >/=64 mmol/mol (8%)] and was also predictive for CAD [HR (95% CI): 1.29 (1.10-1.50) for HbA1c >/=64 mmol/mol (8%)]. A statistically significant relation with glycemic burden was found for all selected micro-/macrovascular complications, with retinopathy having the highest HR (95%): 2.60 (2.19-3.07) for glycemic burden years >3. CONCLUSION: This study shows that greater and more prolonged exposure to hyperglycemia increases the risk of micro- and macrovascular complications. FUNDING: Janssen Pharmaceutica NV.