Abnormal glycosaminoglycan metabolism is involved in the onset of anatomo-functional derangements in diabetic nephropathy, and determines the loss of glomerular basement membrane anionic charges leading to albuminuria. Glycosaminoglycan administration was shown to increase the negative electrical potential of the vessel wall, inhibit mesangial cell proliferation, which is an anatomical hallmark of diabetic nephropathy, and slow down the progression to uremia in subtotally nephrectomized rats, a model that shares some pathogenetic key events with diabetic nephropathy. Based on these considerations, we verified the effect of exogenous glycosaminoglycans on renal involvement in streptozotocin diabetic rats. Long-term administration of two glycosaminoglycans (low-molecular weight heparin and dermatan sulphate) prevented glomerular basement membrane thickening, glomerular anionic charge reduction, as well as the onset of albuminuria without affecting glomerular filtration rate and metabolic control of the disease. Our data demonstrate that the long-term administration of glycosaminoglycans has a favorable effect on morphological and functional renal abnormalities in diabetic rats.