In food science the Maillard reaction is well known to cause degradation of amino acids and an overall decrease in the nutritional value of foods that have been subjected to heat in processing. There has been evidence more recently of the endogenous formation of some Maillard reaction products (MRPs) in biological systems and their association with pathophysiological conditions including diabetes, renal disease and cardiovascular disease. Several studies have suggested that dietary MRPs increase the in vivo pool of MRPs after intestinal absorption and contribute to the development of diabetes and related complications. This review focuses on the animal and human studies which have assessed the eventual implications of dietary MRPs on human health, highlighting the different diets tested, the experimental designs and the biomarkers selected to estimate the health effects. The results of these studies are compared to those of the recently published ICARE study. In this latter study an accurate determination of the MRP content of the diets was achieved, allowing the calculation of the contribution of individual food groups to daily MRP intakes in a regular western diet.