Worldwide, diabetes and its complications are major causes of morbidity, decreased quality of life, mortality and increasing health care costs. Patients with diabetes attempt to control blood pressure, lipids and blood glucose levels to decrease their risk of macrovascular and microvascular complications, such as diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). Even with control of these risk factors for vascular disease, many patients still develop complications. Targeted therapies to the underlying mechanisms of diabetic neuropathy are essential to slow the progression of the disease. This review describes the signs, symptoms and diagnosis of DPN. Additionally, new therapies and the complex etiology that contributes to the development of diabetic neuropathy are described (oxidative stress, hyperglycemia, advanced glycated end products, autoimmunity, neurotrophic factors and protein kinase C beta).