Objectives Evaluation of the demonstrator phase and first wave roll-out of the National Health Service (NHS) Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP) in England. To examine: (1) intervention design, provision and fidelity assessment procedures; (2) risk assessment and recruitment pathways and (3) data collection for monitoring and evaluation. To provide recommendations informing decision makers on programme quality, improvements and future evaluation. Design We reviewed programme documents, mapping against the NHS DPP specification and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) public health guideline: Type 2 diabetes (T2D) prevention in people at high risk (PH38), conducted qualitative research using individual interviews and focus group discussions with stakeholders and examined recruitment, fidelity and data collection procedures. Setting Seven NHS DPP demonstrator sites and, subsequently, 27 first wave areas across England. Interventions Intensive behavioural intervention with weight loss, diet and physical activity goals. The national programme specifies at least 13 sessions over 9 months, delivered face to face to groups of 15-20 adults with non-diabetic hyperglycaemia, mainly recruited from primary care and NHS Health Checks. Participants Participants for qualitative research were purposively sampled to provide a spread of stakeholder experience. Documents for review were provided via the NHS DPP Management Group. Findings The NHS DPP specification reflected current evidence with a clear framework for service provision. Providers, with national capacity to deliver, supplied intervention plans compliant with this framework. Stakeholders highlighted limitations in fidelity assessment and recruitment and retention challenges, especially in reach and equity, that could adversely impact on implementation. Risk assessment for first wave eligibility differed from NICE guidance. Conclusions The NHS DPP provides an evidence-based behavioural intervention for prevention of T2D in adults at high risk, with capacity to deliver nationally. Framework specification allows for balance between consistency and contextual variation in intervention delivery, with session details devolved to providers. Limitations in fidelity assurance, data collection procedures and recruitment issues could adversely impact on intervention effectiveness and restrict evaluation.