Oxidative stress is implicated to play an important role in the development of diabetic vascular complications, including diabetic nephropathy. It is unclear whether oxidative stress is primarily enhanced in the diabetic glomeruli or whether it is merely a consequence of diabetes-induced glomerular injury. To address this issue, we examined diabetic glomeruli to determine whether oxidative stress is enhanced, as well as examined the role of protein kinase C (PKC)-beta activation in modulating NADPH oxidase activity. Urinary 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine excretion and its intense immune-reactive staining in the glomeruli were markedly higher in diabetic than in control rats, and these alterations were ameliorated by a treatment with a selective PKC-beta inhibitor, ruboxistaurin (RBX; LY333531) mesylate, without affecting glycemia. NADPH oxidase activity, which was significantly enhanced in diabetic glomeruli and the source of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, was also improved by RBX treatment by preventing the membranous translocation of p47phox and p67phox from cytoplasmic fraction without affecting their protein levels. Adenoviral-mediated PKC-beta(2) overexpression enhanced ROS generation by modulating the membranous translocation of p47phox and p67phox in cultured mesangial cells. We now demonstrate that oxidative stress is primarily enhanced in the diabetic glomeruli due to a PKC-beta-dependent activation of NADPH oxidase resulting in ROS generation.