Diabetic nephropathy is a serious complication of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) that affects 30% to 40% of IDDM patients with a predictable time of onset. Epidemiologic data suggest that either a genetic susceptibility, perhaps for hypertension (HTN), or an environmental exposure selects out that subset of IDDM patients and destines them to develop diabetic nephropathy. Hopefully, assessing glomerular hyperfiltration, urinary albumin excretion rate (AER), glycemic control, mean arterial pressure (MAP), and perhaps early morphologic changes will allow early identification of this high-risk group of IDDM patients before overt nephropathy is present. Once nephropathy appears, renal function inexorably declines, although the natural history of this progression may be changing with earlier therapeutic intervention. IDDM patients with nephropathy suffer a high mortality rate compared with IDDM patients without nephropathy or with nondiabetic end-stage renal disease patients. This is primarily due to malignant atherosclerotic disease manifested as coronary, peripheral, and cerebral arterial disease. Therapeutic interventions of demonstrated benefit in slowing the rate of decline of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) include blood pressure control and low-protein diets. Strict blood sugar control or treatment with aldose reductase inhibitors, converting enzyme inhibitors (CEIs), or inhibitors of advanced glycosylation end-product formation are of possible benefit, but are awaiting clinical trial results.