Male Zucker diabetic fatty fa/fa (ZDF) rats develop obesity and insulin resistance at a young age, and then with aging, progressively develop hyperglycemia. This hyperglycemia is associated with impaired pancreatic β-cell function, loss of pancreatic β-cell mass, and decreased responsiveness of liver and extrahepatic tissues to the actions of insulin and glucose. Of particular interest are the insights provided by studies of these animals into the mechanism behind the progressive impairment of carbohydrate metabolism. This feature among others, including the development of obesity- and hyperglycemia-related complications, is common between male ZDF rats and humans with type 2 diabetes associated with obesity. We discuss the diabetic features and complications found in ZDF rats and why these animals are widely used as a genetic model for obese type 2 diabetes.