Background The awareness, treatment and control of diabetes mellitus (DM) can effectively reflect on the social status of diabetes conditions. Although several researchers have investigated the awareness, treatment and control rates of diabetes mellitus in China, little is known about their association with risk factors. This study aims to examine the relationship between risk factors and awareness, treatment and control of diabetes mellitus in northeast China. Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2012. Multistage stratified random cluster sampling design was used to select participants aged 18 to 79 years old. The analysis was based on a representative sample of 1,854 adult subjects. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to examine socio-demographic factors associated with the levels of awareness, treatment and control of diabetes mellitus. Results The awareness, treatment, and control rates of diabetes mellitus were 64.1%, 52.9% and 44.2%, respectively. In the multivariable logistic regression analysis, family history of diabetes was significantly positively associated with awareness (OR, 2.145; 95% CI, 1.600-2.875) and treatment (OR, 2.021; 95% CI, 1.559-2.619) of diabetes mellitus, while negatively associated with control (OR, 0.671; 95% CI, 0.529-0.951). Cigarette smokers and alcohol drinkers were less likely than non-smokers and non-drinkers to be aware of their blood glucose levels (OR, 0.895, 0.614; 95% CI, 0.659-1.216, 0.446-0.844, respectively). Participants who frequently exercise were more likely to be aware of their diabetic conditions than people who never or rarely exercise (OR, 2.003; 95% CI, 1.513-2.651). Conclusions We found that the awareness and treatment of diabetes mellitus were positively associated with age and were high in participants with a family history of diabetes and those who exercise frequently, but low for cigarette smokers and alcohol drinkers. Participants with a family history of diabetes had their diabetic condition poorly controlled.