The accumulation of extracellular matrix in the glomeruli of human and experimental models of diabetic nephropathy is associated with disease progression. Transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1), which is a multifunctional peptide growth factor, plays a key role in the synthesis of extracellular matrix protein in vitro, and the expression of TGF-β1 is elevated in human and rat diabetic nephropathy. In this study, we measured the urinary TGF-β1 excretion in 57 patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and in 20 healthy volunteers to examine whether the determination of urinary TGF-β1 excretion would facilitate the evaluation of the degree of mesangial expansion in patients with diabetic nephropathy. Both active and total TGF-β1 levels in 24-hour urine samples collected from patients with diabetes mellitus and normal controls were measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We observed a higher excretion of urinary TGF-β1 in patients with diabetes mellitus than in normal controls. In addition, the urinary TGF-β1 excretion was elevated in patients with severe mesangial expansion. These results suggest that urinary TGF-β1 may represent one parameter that can be used to evaluate the progression of diabetic nephropathy.