It has been reported that advanced glycosylation end products (AGEs) play an important role in the development of diabetic complications. To evaluate the relationship between serum AGEs and diabetic nephropathy, we measured serum AGE levels in diabetic patients with normoalbuminuria (N), microalbuminuria (M), overt proteinuria (O), and hemodialysis (HD), non diabetic patients with nephropathy, and age-matched control subjects using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Urine AGE levels were also measured in these subjects except group HD. Serum AGE levels in diabetic patients were not significantly higher than those in the normal subjects. When we compared serum AGE levels among various stages of diabetic nephropathy, groups O and HD had significantly higher serum AGE levels than the other groups. Serum AGE levels in group HD were almost 6-fold higher than those in groups N and M. In contrast, there were no significant differences in urinary AGE levels among any diabetic groups. As for the variables that determine serum AGE levels in diabetic patients, there was no significant correlation between serum AGEs and fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), or duration of diabetes. In contrast, serum AGEs showed a strong correlation with serum creatinine and an inverse correlation with creatinine clearance. To evaluate the relationship between serum AGEs and oxidative stress in diabetic nephropathy, urinary 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) and serum malondialdehyde (MDA), which are biological markers of total oxidative stress in vivo, were also examined. Both urinary 8-OHdG and serum MDA levels were significantly higher in diabetic patients with proteinuria versus those without proteinuria. However, there was no significant correlation between serum AGEs and urinary 8-OHdG or serum MDA levels in diabetic patients. These results suggest that the accumulation of serum AGEs in diabetic nephropathy may be mainly due to decreased removal in the kidney rather than increased production by high glucose levels or oxidative stress.