Chronic complications of diabetes mellitus e.a. diabetic nephropathy, neuropathy and retinopathy develop in at least 30-50% of patients with both Type 1 (insulin-dependent) and Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes, and are the major cause of increased morbidity and mortality. The ultimate consequences of diabetes complications include renal failure, foot ulceration and amputation, and blindness. The magnitude of the problem and its economic impact make extremely important to understand the natural history of chronic diabetes complications and to identify more successful preventive and therapeutic options. The pathogenesis of diabetes complications involves multiple mechanisms. The importance of vascular component is well recognized in diabetic retinopathy, which is primarily a vascular disease, as well as diabetic nephropathy developing as a result of complex interplay between hemodynamic and metabolic factors. The importance of vascular versus non-vascular mechanisms in the pathogenesis of diabetic neuropathy remains a subject of debate. Studies in animal and cell culture models revealed that such mechanisms as increased aldose reductase activity, nonenzymatic glycation/glycoxidation, activation of protein kinase C, impaired growth factor support, enhanced oxidative/ nitrosative stress, and its downstream effectors such as mitogen-activated protein kinase activation, inflammatory response, endothelin-1 overexpression and impaired Ca++ signaling, play an important role in all three tissue-targets for diabetes complications i.e. kidney, retina and peripheral nerve. Evidence for important role of the downstream effector of free radical and oxidant-induced DNA injury, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase activation, is emerging. This review describes recent studies addressing the role for poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase activation in diabetic nephropathy, neuropathy and retinopathy.