We investigated the cumulative burden and linear rates of change of major metabolic risk factors (MRFs) among Iranian adults in whom type 2 diabetes did and did not develop.We included 7,163 participants (3,069 men) aged 20-70 years at baseline with at least three examinations during 1999-2018. Individual growth curve modeling was used for data analysis. Statistical interactions for sex by diabetes status were adjusted for age, family history of diabetes, smoking status, and physical activity level.Study sample included 743 (316 men) new case subjects with diabetes. In both men and women, compared with individuals in whom diabetes did not develop, individuals in whom diabetes developed had a higher burden of all MRFs and a greater rate of change in BMI, fasting plasma glucose (FPG), systolic blood pressure (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure; however, the differences in burden and rate of change between those who did and did not develop diabetes were greater in women than in men. During the transition to diabetes, women experienced more adverse change in BMI, FPG, triglyceride, and HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) (diabetes-sex interaction P values <0.05) and faster rates of change in BMI, FPG, HDL-C, and total cholesterol (interaction P values <0.01) and SBP (interaction P = 0.055) than men.The greater exposure of women to and burden of MRFs before onset of diabetes may have implications for implementing sex-specific strategies in order to prevent or delay diabetes complications.