1. Diabetes mellitus is a serious metabolic disorder with micro- and macrovascular complications that results in significant morbidity and mortality. 2. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the hypoglycaemic efficacy of commonly used traditional Indian plants, such as Murraya koenigii, Mentha piperitae, Ocimum sanctum and Aegle marmelos, in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced experimental rats. 3. Oral administration of the ethanolic extract of these plants resulted in a significant decrease in the levels of blood glucose, glycosylated haemoglobin and urea, with a concomitant increase in glycogen, haemoglobin and protein, in diabetic rats. Treatment with these plant extracts also resulted in an increase in insulin and C-peptide levels and glucose tolerance. 4. The decreased activities of carbohydrate-metabolising enzymes, such as hexokinase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and glycogen synthase, in diabetic rats were significantly elevated towards near normal in rats treated with extracts of M. koenigii, O. sanctum and A. marmelos; the increased activities of lactate dehydrogenase, fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase, glucose-6-phosphatase and glycogen phosphorylase in STZ diabetic rats were significantly reduced following treatment with the plant extracts. 5. Elevated specific binding of [(125)I]-labelled insulin to the receptor found in diabetic rats was markedly decreased in extract-treated groups. However, treatment of diabetic rats with M. piperitae did not result in any significant modification in all parameters. 6. Phytochemical screening conducted by us revealed the presence of biologically active ingredients in the ethanolic extracts of M. koenigii, O. sanctum and A. marmelos, which may readily account for the observed hypoglycaemic activity.