Hypertension and diabetes mellitus are both common conditions associated with a high morbidity and mortality. When the two conditions occur together, as they do in 50% of diabetic individuals, the result is a 7.2-fold increase in mortality. If hypertension occurs in association with diabetes mellitus and diabetic nephropathy, mortality rises to 37-fold above that of a healthy population. Despite the increase in incidence of nephropathy, cardiovascular disease remains the major cause of death in diabetic individuals. Therapy should therefore take into consideration the results of large, placebo-controlled trials which have shown reduction in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality as a result of active treatment. Although studies with the newer antihypertensive agents such as calcium antagonists and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are ongoing, only diuretics and β-adrenoceptor antagonists have been clearly shown to reduce cardiovascular risk. Despite concerns regarding adverse metabolic effects and loss of hypoglycaemic awareness, β-blockers and diuretics do have a role in the management of diabetic patients. While it is clear that ACE inhibitors reduce the progression of diabetic nephropathy, evidence suggests that diuretics may be just as effective. However, unlike diuretics or β-blockers, ACE inhibitors have no proven benefit in the prevention of stroke or myocardial infarction. Despite the claims of metabolic neutrality made for many antihypertensive agents there appears to be no advantage in their use in the majority of hypertensive diabetic patients, except where there exist specific contraindications to established therapies.