Gut peptides, exemplified by glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) are secreted in a nutrient-dependent manner and stimulate glucose-dependent insulin secretion. Both GIP and GLP-1 also promote beta cell proliferation and inhibit apoptosis, leading to expansion of beta cell mass. GLP-1, but not GIP, controls glycemia via additional actions on glucose sensors, inhibition of gastric emptying, food intake and glucagon secretion. Furthermore, GLP-1, unlike GIP, potently stimulates insulin secretion and reduces blood glucose in human subjects with type 2 diabetes. This article summarizes current concepts of incretin action and highlights the potential therapeutic utility of GLP-1 receptor agonists and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.