The dihydrochalcone phlorizin is a natural product and dietary constituent found in a number of fruit trees. It has been used as a pharmaceutical and tool for physiology research for over 150 years. Phlorizin's principal pharmacological action is to produce renal glycosuria and block intestinal glucose absorption through inhibition of the sodium-glucose symporters located in the proximal renal tubule and mucosa of the small intestine. This review covers the role phlorizin has played in the history of diabetes mellitus and its use as an agent to understand fundamental concepts in renal physiology as well as summarizes the physiology of cellular glucose transport and the pathophysiology of renal glycosuria. It reviews the biology and pathobiology of glucose transporters and discusses the medical botany of phlorizin and the potential effects of plant flavonoids, such as phlorizin, on human metabolism. Lastly, it describes the clinical pharmacology and toxicology of phlorizin, including investigational uses of phlorizin and phlorizin analogs in the treatment of diabetes, obesity, and stress hyperglycemia. Copyright (c) 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.