Diabetes mellitus is one of the most emerging diseases threatening the present world. Thus, intensive investigations are carried out to better understand the mechanisms occurring in type 1 (T1D) and 2 (T2D) diabetes, and to elaborate more potent methods to fight the disease. In this aspect, the suppressors of cytokine signalling (SOCS) are one of the most studied factors of recent years. SOCS proteins have been discovered as cytokine pathway inhibitors; however, presently, their influence seems wider. Most of the known SOCS proteins are involved in the modulation of the development of insulin resistance, β-cell failure and eventually T1D and T2D. They are also involved in complications related with diabetes, such as retinopathy, nephropathy and cardiomyopathy. In T1D, SOCS proteins regulate β-cell mass, mediate resistance to damaging factors and improve pancreatic islet graft survival. Regarding insulin resistance and T2D, SOCS proteins take part in mediating signals produced by diabetogenic substances and regulate insulin receptor functioning, affecting insulin sensitivity. However, not all of the present data are consistent, and thus, further studies are required. Finally, for several pharmacologically active substances of importance regarding the treatment of diabetes, SOCS-modulating properties have already been described. Here, we review the findings of SOCS–diabetes relations of the last decade. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.