We investigated the effects of three aldose reductase (AR) inhibitors, fidarestat, epalrestat and zenarestat, on the slowing of sensory nerve conduction velocity (SNCV), motor nerve conduction velocity (MNCV), and minimal F-wave latency prolongation in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. Two weeks after STZ injection, SNCV and MNCV in the diabetic rats were significantly slower than in normal rats. Fidarestat (0.25-2 mg/kg/day), epalrestat (48 to 96 mg/kg/day) or zenarestat (10-40 mg/kg/day) was administered orally for the following 2 weeks, and SNCV, MNCV and F-wave latency were measured 3 h after final administration. Significant prolongation of minimal F-wave latency, as well as slowing of SNCV and MNCV, was found in the untreated diabetic rats 4 weeks after STZ injection. At a dose of 0.5 mg/kg/day or more fidarestat showed significant effects on these nervous dysfunctions, effects that were more potent than those shown by the other inhibitors. Furthermore, following the 2-week administration of fidarestat (1 mg/kg/day), epalrestat (48 mg/kg/day) or zenarestat (20 mg/kg/day), which began 2 weeks after STZ injection, sorbitol content in the sciatic nerve, produced by AR, a rate-limiting enzyme in the polyol pathway, was determined at 3, 8, 12, and 24 h after final administration. At each point in time, sorbitol content in the untreated diabetic rats was much higher than that in the normal control rats. Fidarestat suppressed sorbitol accumulation remarkably and continuously until 24 h after administration. On the other hand, the inhibitory effect by zenarestat declined in a time-dependent manner, and epalrestat did not decrease sorbitol content. Therefore, these results suggest that continuous inhibition of increased polyol pathway flux can improve diabetic neuropathy more potently.