Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is an incretin hormone with antidiabetic action through its ability to stimulate insulin secretion, increase beta cell neogenesis, inhibit beta cell apoptosis, inhibit glucagon secretion, delay gastric emptying and induce satiety. It has therefore been explored as a novel treatment of type 2 diabetes. A problem is, however, that GLP-1 is rapidly inactivated by the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) enzyme, which results in a short circulating half-life of the active form of GLP-1 (< 2 min). Two strategies have been employed to overcome this obstacle as a treatment of diabetes. One is to use GLP-1 receptor agonists that have a prolonged half-life due to reduced degradation by DPP-4. These GLP-1 mimetics include exenatide and liraglutide. Another strategy is to inhibit the enzyme DPP-4, which prolongs the half-life of endogenously released active GLP-1. Both these strategies have been successful in animal studies and in clinical studies of up to one year's treatment. This review will summarize the background and the current (mid 2004) clinical experience with these two strategies.