Diabetic nephropathy is an inflammatory disease with prominent leucocyte infiltration of the kidneys. While the importance of macrophages in diabetic renal injury has been clearly demonstrated, the role of lymphocytes is still unknown. We therefore examined the development of diabetic renal injury in lymphocyte-deficient mice. results show that lymphocytes contribute to the development of diabetic albuminuria, which may partly arise from increasing glomerular macrophage activation and podocyte damage. In contrast, lymphocytes do not appear to promote tubular injury, increased matrix deposition or decline in renal function in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes. Our findings suggest that innate immunity rather than adaptive immune responses are the major inflammatory contributor to the progression of diabetic renal injury.