The presence of a diabetic cardiomyopathy, independent of hypertension and coronary artery disease, is still controversial. This systematic review seeks to evaluate the evidence for the existence of this condition, to clarify the possible mechanisms responsible, and to consider possible therapeutic implications. The existence of a diabetic cardiomyopathy is supported by epidemiological findings showing the association of diabetes with heart failure; clinical studies confirming the association of diabetes with left ventricular dysfunction independent of hypertension, coronary artery disease, and other heart disease; and experimental evidence of myocardial structural and functional changes. The most important mechanisms of diabetic cardiomyopathy are metabolic disturbances (depletion of glucose transporter 4, increased free fatty acids, carnitine deficiency, changes in calcium homeostasis), myocardial fibrosis (association with increases in angiotensin II, IGF-I, and inflammatory cytokines), small vessel disease (microangiopathy, impaired coronary flow reserve, and endothelial dysfunction), cardiac autonomic neuropathy (denervation and alterations in myocardial catecholamine levels), and insulin resistance (hyperinsulinemia and reduced insulin sensitivity). This review presents evidence that diabetes is associated with a cardiomyopathy, independent of comorbid conditions, and that metabolic disturbances, myocardial fibrosis, small vessel disease, cardiac autonomic neuropathy, and insulin resistance may all contribute to the development of diabetic heart disease.