| The development of type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus has a substantial negative impact on morbidity and mortality and is responsible for substantial individual and socioeconomic costs worldwide. One of the most serious consequences of diabetes mellitus is the development of diabetic angiopathy, which manifests clinically as microvascular and macrovascular complications. One microvascular complication, diabetic nephropathy, is the most common cause of end-stage renal disease in developed countries. Although several available therapeutic interventions can delay the onset and progression of diabetic nephropathy, morbidity associated with this disease remains high and new therapeutic approaches are needed. In addition, not all patients with diabetes mellitus will develop diabetic nephropathy and thus new biomarkers are needed to identify individuals who will develop this life-threatening disease. An increasing body of evidence points toward a role of the complement system in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy. For example, circulating levels of mannose-binding lectin (MBL), a pattern recognition molecule of the innate immune system, have emerged as a robust biomarker for the development and progression of this disease, and evidence suggests that MBL, H-ficolin, complement component C3 and the membrane attack complex might contribute to renal injury in the hyperglycaemic mileu. New approaches to modulate the complement system might lead to the development of new agents to prevent or slow the progression of diabetic nephropathy.