Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common comorbidity in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and both conditions are increasing in prevalence. CKD is estimated to affect ∼50% patients with T2DM globally, and its presence and severity markedly influences disease prognosis. CKD is more common in certain patient populations, including the elderly, those with youth-onset diabetes mellitus, those who are obese, certain ethnic groups, and disadvantaged populations. These same settings have also seen the greatest increase in the prevalence of T2DM, as exemplified by the increasing prevalence of T2DM in low-to- middle income countries. Patients from low-to-middle income countries are often the least able to deal with the burden of T2DM and CKD and the health-care facilities of these countries least able to deal with the demand for equitable access to renal replacement therapies. The increasing prevalence of younger individuals with T2DM, in whom an accelerated course of complications can be observed, further adds to the global burden of CKD. Paradoxically, improvements in cardiovascular survival in patients with T2DM have contributed to patients surviving longer, allowing sufficient time to develop renal impairment. This Review explores how the changing epidemiology of T2DM has influenced the prevalence and incidence of associated CKD across different populations and clinical settings.