In this study a profile is presented of a group of people diagnosed with pre-diabetes and who volunteered to be part of a lifestyle intervention to improve their health. Baseline (pre-intervention) data on biochemical, anthropometric, psychosocial, cultural and lifestyle factors were collected, providing a picture of the extent to which the behaviours of the participants were suboptimal for health. The sample enabled comparison of a Chinese-Australian group with an Anglo-Australian group, as well as male-female comparisons. Participants reported several barriers to healthy eating and exercise, with negative mood, particularly depression, significantly associated with more perceived barriers and weaker motivation to change. Men were less healthy eaters than women. The Anglo-Australian pre-diabetics were characterised by biochemical and anthropomorphic features reflecting the metabolic syndrome, showing risk factors not only for diabetes but also for cardio-vascular disease. The Chinese sample did not reflect metabolic syndrome risk factors to the same extent and, possibly as a consequence, were less motivated to change their behaviour in response to their diagnosis of pre-diabetes. The implications for lifestyle interventions were discussed.