Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are involved in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy (DN). Resveratrol has potent protective effects on diabetes and diabetic complications including diabetic nephropathy. We aimed to investigate the protective effects of resveratrol on mitochondria and the underlying mechanisms by using an in vitro model of hyperglycemia. We exposed primary cultured rat mesangial cells to high glucose (30 mM) for 48 h. We found that pretreatment with resveratrol (10 μM) 6 h prior to high glucose treatment significantly reduced hyperglycemia-induced increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and mitochondrial superoxide generation, as well as stimulated MnSOD activity. In addition, resveratrol pretreatment significantly reversed the decrease of mitochondrial complex III activity in glucose-treated mesangial cells, which is considered to be the major source of mitochondrial oxidative stress in glucose-treated cells. Furthermore, resveratrol pretreatment efficiently restored the hyperpolarization of Δψ, increased ATP production and preserved the mtDNA content. All of these protective effects of resveratrol were successfully blocked by siRNA targeting SIRT1 and EX-527, a specific inhibitor of SIRT1 activity. Our results indicated that resveratrol efficiently reduced oxidative stress and maintained mitochondrial function related with activating SIRT1 in glucose-treated mesangial cells. It suggested that resveratrol is pharmacologically promising for treating diabetic nephropathy.