The study of diabetic nephropathy in experimental animals generally relies on the chemical induction of the diabetic state. Streptozotocin is commonly employed to that end; however, streptozotocin has an inherent nephrotoxic potential. We studied the effects of both streptozotocin, and diabetes on the kidneys of rats given streptozotocin 60 mg/kg, which was sufficient to induce severe diabetes. Our studies, which utilized both transmission and scanning electron microscopy, considered the pharmacokinetics of streptozotocin in renal tissue, as well as the effect of insulin treatment. Renal tissue kinetics were altered by occluding the renal hilum of one kidney during, and for 5 min after, the administration of streptozotocin. We found that, in contrast to alloxan, streptozotocin caused no detectable renal injury at the dose employed. Previously described renal epithelial papillomas were identified, and were not influenced by altering the renal tissue kinetics of the drug. We conclude that no ‘protection’ procedure is necessary for the kidney when the streptozotocin model of diabetes is employed. In this regard streptozotocin may have greater utility than alloxan.