Ulceration of the foot in diabetes is common and disabling and frequently leads to amputation of the leg. Mortality is high and healed ulcers often recur. The pathogenesis of foot ulceration is complex, clinical presentation variable, and management requires early expert assessment. Interventions should be directed at infection, peripheral ischaemia, and abnormal pressure loading caused by peripheral neuropathy and limited joint mobility. Despite treatment, ulcers readily become chronic wounds. Diabetic foot ulcers have been neglected in health-care research and planning, and clinical practice is based more on opinion than scientific fact. Furthermore, the pathological processes are poorly understood and poorly taught and communication between the many specialties involved is disjointed and insensitive to the needs of patients.