Diabetes often leads to a number of complications involving brain function, including cognitive decline and depression. In addition, depression is a risk factor for developing diabetes. A loss of hippocampal neuroplasticity, which impairs the ability of the brain to adapt and reorganize key behavioral and emotional functions, provides a framework for understanding this reciprocal relationship. The effects of diabetes on brain and behavioral functions in experimental models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are reviewed, with a focus on the negative impact of impaired hippocampal neurogenesis, dendritic remodeling and increased apoptosis. Mechanisms shown to regulate neuroplasticity and behavior in diabetes models, including stress hormones, neurotransmitters, neurotrophins, inflammation and aging, are integrated within this framework. Pathological changes in hippocampal function can contribute to the brain symptoms of diabetes-associated complications by failing to regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-axis, maintain learning and memory and govern emotional expression. Further characterization of alterations in neuroplasticity along with glycemic control will facilitate the development and evaluation of pharmacological interventions that could successfully prevent and/or reverse the detrimental effects of diabetes on brain and behavior.