It is known that Wallerian degeneration (WD) is prerequisite for nerve regeneration, which is impaired in experimental diabetic rats. To elucidate the effect of hyperglycemia on WD, we studied the time course of WD after axotomy in streptozocin-diabetic (DM) and control rats. Sciatic nerves were removed at several time points after axotomy (days 0-24). Morphometric analysis indicated that WD was delayed in DM throughout experimental period. Quantitative immunohistochemical analysis showed that the early recruitment of macrophage did not differ between the two groups, although its late recruitment was significantly decreased in DM at 15 and 24 days post-axotomy, which suggested that the macrophage-associated process did not contribute to delayed WD in diabetes. Immunoblot analysis showed a delay in the degradation of neurofilaments (NFs) in DM during WD. Phosphorylated NFs detected by SMI31 were more recognized in DM, while the opposite was true for unphosphorylated NFs detected by SMI32. Since it is known that the sensitivity of NF to calpain-mediated proteolysis is modulated by its carboxyl-terminal phosphorylation state and phosphorylated NFs are resistant to calpains, we concluded that abnormal NF phosphorylation state in diabetes could be one of the mechanisms by which axonal degeneration was delayed.