A strong case for the deregulation of epigenetic chromatin modifications in the development and progression of various chronic complications of diabetes has emerged from recent experimental observations. Clinical trials of type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients highlight the importance of early and intensive treatment and the prolonged damage of hyperglycemia on organs such as the kidney. The functional relationship between the regulation of chromatin architecture and persistent gene expression changes conferred by prior hyperglycemia represents an important avenue of investigation for explaining diabetic nephropathy. While several studies implicate epigenetic changes at the chromatin template in the deregulated gene expression associated with diabetic nephropathy, the molecular determinants of metabolic memory in renal cells remain poorly understood. There is now strong evidence from experimental animals and cell culture of persistent glucose-driven changes in vascular endothelial gene expression that may also have relevance for the microvasculature of the kidney. Exploration of epigenetic mechanisms underlying the hyperglycemic cue mediating persistent transcriptional changes in renal cells holds novel therapeutic potential for diabetic nephropathy.