Excessive glomerular collagen IV and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production are key factors in the development of diabetic nephropathy. Integrin alpha1beta1, the major collagen IV receptor, dowregulates collagen IV and ROS production, suggesting this integrin might determine the severity of diabetic nephropathy. To test this possibility, wild-type and integrin alpha1-null mice were rendered diabetic with streptozotocin (STZ) (100 mg/kg single intraperitoneal injection), after which glomerular filtration rate (GFR), glomerular collagen deposition, and glomerular basement membrane (GBM) thickening were evaluated. In addition, ROS and collagen IV production by mesangial cells as well as their proliferation was measured in vitro. Diabetic alpha1-null mice developed worse renal disease than diabetic wild-type mice. A significant increase in GFR was evident in the alpha1-null mice at 6 weeks after the STZ injection; it started to decrease by week 24 and reached levels of non-diabetic mice by week 36. In contrast, GFR only increased in wild-type mice at week 12 and its elevation persisted throughout the study. Diabetic mutant mice also showed increased glomerular deposition of collagen IV and GBM thickening compared to diabetic wild-type mice. Primary alpha1-null mesangial cells exposed to high glucose produced more ROS than wild-type cells, which led to decreased proliferation and increased collagen IV synthesis, thus mimicking the in vivo finding. In conclusion, this study suggests that lack of integrin alpha1beta1 exacerbates the glomerular injury in a mouse model of diabetes by modulating GFR, ROS production, cell proliferation, and collagen deposition.