Pancreatic islet beta-cell death occurs in type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus, leading to absolute or relative insulin deficiency. beta-cell death in type 1 diabetes is due predominantly to autoimmunity. In type 2 diabetes beta-cell death occurs as the combined consequence of increased circulating glucose and saturated fatty acids together with adipocyte secreted factors and chronic activation of the innate immune system. In both diabetes types intra-islet inflammatory mediators seem to trigger a final common pathway leading to beta-cell apoptosis. Therefore anti-inflammatory therapeutic approaches designed to block beta-cell apoptosis could be a significant new development in type 1 and 2 diabetes.