Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is one of the most commonly occurring major complications of diabetes. The disease may manifest in several clinical patterns: most frequently as distal symmetrical sensory polyneuropathy. Guidelines are available for the diagnosis of DPN by the primary care physician. These recommend that a review of diabetic patients, including a questionnaire and inspection and neurological examination of the feet, is undertaken annually. Techniques used for studying the disease process in clinical trials may include nerve conduction and quantitative sensory function tests, autonomic nervous system testing, post-ganglionic sudomotor function and skin biopsy. Current therapies for managing DPN are strict glycaemic control, palliative treatments and foot ulcer prevention. Future treatments aim to beneficially affect the underlying disease pathology and putative agents are currently being investigated.