Although an improvement of insulin sensitivity has been shown to be a new therapeutic approach for treating diabetes mellitus, details of effects of this treatment on the cardiovascular system and possible renal complications remain unknown. In the present study, we investigated the effects of a thiazolidine derivative, pioglitazone, and examined the insulin-sensitizing action on blood pressure, nephropathy, and vascular changes in genetically obese diabetic Wistar fatty (WF) rats. Pioglitazone (3 mg.kg-1.day-1) was orally administered for 13 wk starting at the age of 5 wk, and the results were compared with those of vehicle-treated WF rats. At the age of 18 wk, vehicle-treated WF rats were associated with mild hypertension, nephropathy with proteinuria histological glomerular injury, and renal arteriolosclerosis in addition to hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and hyperlipidemia. Treatment with pioglitazone significantly improved glucose and lipid metabolism. In addition, it lowered blood pressure, decreased proteinuria, and prevented glomerular injury, renal arteriolosclerosis, and aortic medial wall thickening, whereas body weight, food intake, sodium balance, and urinary norepinephrine excretion were significantly increased. These results suggest that the insulin-sensitizing agent pioglitazone is effective in correcting not only glucose and lipid metabolism but also cardiovascular and renal complications in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.