Zinc is an element that under physiological conditions preferentially binds to and is a potent inducer of metallothionein under physiological conditions. The present study was conducted to explore whether zinc supplementation morphologically and biochemically protects against diabetic nephropathy through modulation of kidney metallothionein induction and oxidative stress in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Thirty-two Wistar albino male rats were equally divided into four groups. The first group was used as untreated controls and the second group was supplemented with 30 mg/kg/day zinc as zinc sulfate. The third group was treated with streptozotocin to induce diabetes and the fourth group was treated with streptozotocin and supplemented with zinc as described for group 2. The blood glucose and micro-albuminuria levels, body and kidney weights were measured during the 42-day experimental period. At the end of the experiment, the kidneys were removed from all animals from the four groups. Diabetes resulted in degenerative kidney morphological changes. The metallothionein immunoreactivity level was lower and the kidney lipid peroxidation levels were higher in the diabetes group than in the controls. The metallothionein immunoreactivity levels were higher in the tubules of the zinc-supplemented diabetic rats as compared to the non-supplemented diabetic group. The zinc and metallothionein concentrations in kidney tissue were higher in the supplemented diabetic group compared to the non-supplemented diabetes group. The activity of glutathione peroxidase did not change in any of the four groups. In conclusion, the present study shows that zinc has a protective effect against diabetic damage of kidney tissue through stimulation of metallothionein synthesis and regulation of the oxidative stress.