Macrophages play a critical role in wound healing and can be activated to two distinctive phenotypes in vitro: classical macrophage activation (caM) and alternative macrophage activation (aaM). This study investigated whether the impaired cutaneous repair observed in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats was associated with altered macrophage activation. Our results show that macrophage activation phenotypes could be observed in wound healing through double immunostaining. The caM macrophages appeared in the initial stage of wound healing, followed by aaM macrophages, which predominated in normal wounds. However, through examining markers associated with activation by immunoblotting and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), diabetic wounds demonstrated insufficient caM in the early stage but excessive aaM in the later proliferative phase. Moreover, the macrophage activation markers were correlated with the instructive T helper cell type 1 (Th1)/Th2 cytokines in both groups. It was indicated that changed macrophage activation might contribute to impaired healing in diabetes wounds, and that strategies for reverting this abnormal activation could be useful for enhancing the wound healing process.