Diabetic polyneuropathy is a complex disease of progressive nerve fiber loss. Initial screening and diagnosis in clinical practice usually depend on assessment of subjective complaints. A need exists for objective, simple, and reproducible assessment tools that can be readily used in clinical practice. The importance of early diagnosis is highlighted by the recent North American Diabetes Control and Complications Trial where intensive insulin therapy reduced the risk of developing diabetic neuropathy by 61%. At the University of Michigan, we have developed an outpatient neuropathy program. Patients are given a questionnaire and a brief screening examination, designated the Neuropathy Screening Instrument. Diabetic neuropathy is confirmed and staged in patients with a positive Neuropathy Screening Instrument, by a quantitative neurologic examination and nerve conduction studies, designated the Diabetic Neuropathy Score. The Michigan program has been compared with well-established instruments and has been found to be sensitive and reproducible for screening and diagnosis. We believe the program provides a valuable tool for the clinician in the practice setting and should allow diagnosis and intervention earlier in the course of diabetic neuropathy.