Diabetic nephropathy has become the most prevalent cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in many countries. ESRD patients with diabetes have a particularly poor prognosis compared with patients without diabetes. The course of diabetic nephropathy can be modified with early management of the condition and it is important that diabetes patients are screened regularly for early signs of kidney damage. Blood pressure control and use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers have been shown to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease. Patients with diabetes are at considerable risk of cardiovascular complications, and modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, such as anaemia and dyslipidaemia, should be treated at an early stage. Correction of anaemia with recombinant human erythropoietin is associated with improvements in quality of life, functional status, and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, and may slow the progression of renal disease. Abnormalities in calcium and phosphate metabolism and acidosis may also occur in patients with diabetes and nephropathy and these should be monitored regularly. It is important that patients with kidney disease are detected promptly to allow intervention to slow renal disease progression and to treat modifiable cardiovascular risk factors. Improved collaboration between diabetologists and nephrologists will also ensure that patients receive optimal care.