Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) generates angiotensin II from angiotensin I, which plays a critical role in the pathophysiology of diabetic nephropathy. However, ACE2 generates angiotensin 1-7, which may protect the kidney by attenuating the effects of angiotensin II, since deletion of the Ace2 gene leads to glomerulosclerosis in mice, and pharmacologic inhibition of ACE2 exacerbates experimental diabetic nephropathy. We measured ACE2 and ACE expression in renal biopsies of patients with kidney disease due to type 2 diabetes to determine if the expression pattern is specific to diabetic nephropathy. ACE2 and ACE mRNA levels were measured by real-time PCR in laser microdissected renal biopsies from 13 diabetic and 8 control patients. ACE2 mRNA was significantly reduced by more than half in both the glomeruli and proximal tubules of the diabetic patients compared to controls, but ACE mRNA was increased in both compartments. There was a significant parallel decrease in ACE2 protein expression, determined by immunohistochemistry, in proximal tubules, a pattern not found in 12 patients with focal glomerulosclerosis or 10 patients with chronic allograft nephropathy. Our results suggest that the kidney disease of patients with type 2 diabetes is associated with a reduction in ACE2 gene and protein expression and this may contribute to the progression of renal injury.