A known inhibitor of the complement cascade (K-76 COONa) was administered to an inbred diabetic rat model to investigate whether the complement system may play a role in the progression of diabetic glomerulosclerosis. Drinking water containing K-76 COONa was available continuously to inbred diabetic rats (Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty, OLETF) from the age of 25 to 55 weeks (Group L). Drinking water without K-76 COONa was similarly available to OLETF rats (Group H) and nondiabetic control rats (Long-Evans Tokushima Otsuka, LETO) (Group C). The levels of plasma glucose (mg/dl) at the 55th week were 156 ± 16 in Group C, 252 ± 18 in Group L and 349 ± 93 in Group H. There was no significant difference in the degree of diabetes between Group L and Group H. The levels of urinary protein at 55 weeks of age (mg/day) were 2.1 ± 0.4 in Group C, 11.6 ± 1.5 in Group L and 18.0 ± 2.8 in Group H. The level of urinary protein was significantly decreased by the administration of K-76 COONa. Histological examination of renal specimens from the sacrificed rats at 55 weeks of age revealed diffuse mesangial expansion in almost all glomeruli in Group H, exudative lesions in 30% of glomeruli in Group H, and only mild mesangial expansion was recognized in Group L. Immunofluorescence study revealed brilliant staining of C3 and immunoglobulins (Ig) in Group H; trace staining of Ig and no staining of C3 were recognized in Group L. The incubation study with guinea pig serum and glomeruli from rats revealed that Ig and complement components also bound to injured glomeruli in vitro. These data indicate that the complement cascade is activated by injured glomeruli and this activation exacerbates diabetic glomerulosclerosis.