With the goal of identifying optimal platforms for developing better models of diabetic nephropathy in mice, we compared renal effects of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes among five common inbred mouse strains (C57BL/6, MRL/Mp, BALB/c, DBA/2, and 129/SvEv). We also evaluated the renal consequences of chemical and genetic diabetes on the same genetic background (C57BL/6). There was a hierarchical response of blood glucose level to the STZ regimen among the strains (DBA/2 > C57BL/6 > MRL/MP > 129/SvEv > BALB/c). In all five strains, males demonstrated much more robust hyperglycemia with STZ than females. STZ-induced diabetes was associated with modest levels of albuminuria in all of the strains but was greatest in the DBA/2 strain, which also had the most marked hyperglycemia. Renal structural changes on light microscopy were limited to the development of mesangial expansion, and, while there were some apparent differences among strains in susceptibility to renal pathological changes, there was a significant positive correlation between blood glucose and the degree of mesangial expansion, suggesting that most of the variability in renal pathological abnormalities was because of differences in hyperglycemia. Although the general character of renal involvement was similar between chemical and genetic diabetes, Akita mice developed more marked hyperglycemia, elevated blood pressures, and less variability in renal structural responses. Thus, among the strains and models tested, the DBA/2 genetic background and the Akita (Ins2(+/C96Y)) model may be the most useful platforms for model development.